How does it feel when you know you are one of the few who are attending a mapping conference in Nepal without GIS background? It makes you feel uncomfortable realizing many participants have long lists of academic and working experience in OSM and GIS! It really does. Since I had little knowledge about mapping in comparison to my peers, I felt uncomfortable during the very first day of the conference. But the surprising thing was that the uncomfortable feeling did not kill me inside, rather it made me more excited to learn new things!
I got the courage to channel my uncomfortableness into activeness because of the immense support and kindness I received from the participants and faculties. Whenever I was stuck during a GIS or mapping activity, I did not hesitate to ask for help. I made amazing friends with whom I am connected via Whatsapp and Facebook. It did not take much time to become close with the participants. Maybe it’s because of the common purpose that we cherish. Though we all came from different parts of the world, we work together to make the world a better place by mapping.
I met the coolest and most caring instructors and experts there. Patricia’s effort to run a tight ship, Brent’s KISS (keep it simple and silly) method for writing a good research paper, Richard’s interesting stories about GIS, Carrie’s welcoming hug, and Nuala’s passion for mapping that not only reflected in her teaching but also in her map printed skirts, were all mesmerizing.
The week-long, scheduled workshop was designed with a combination of various activities such as a geocaching activity, leadership training, storytelling, presentations, a mappillary hike, and technical sessions for mapping. Whatever we learnt theoretically in the Park Village conference room, we applied those skills in different and interesting ways. We went to a village to do field validation and used KOBOtoolbox for data collection. Next, we wrote a hypothesis for our research paper immediately after we learned how to write an effective research paper and applied the use of MAPS.ME playing a treasure hunt game around the very spacious hotel. The rafting experience was one of the spectacular experiences of my lifetime. I conquered my fear of water in the three hour long thrilling experience. Paddling against the direction of the waves with my team was something beyond entertainment. It was a lesson in the magic of working together and a lesson in leadership in order to be a successful team. I would like to thank Kathmandu Living lab (KLL) for arranging such an excellent logistics and Trishuli river rafting.
Waking up in the mornings, I got to see a beautiful view, covered by fog, from my window. This was one of many beautiful scenes I encountered in Nepal. The fellowship program was an exclusive learning platform for me. I returned excited to learn something new in economic courses back in my University. At the end of the conference, I realized that I was leaving behind one of the most beautiful moments of my life.