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Álvaro Castrillo Schneiter


From 01/01/2010 to 02/06/2010

Journalistic volunteering in Nepal

When I finished my internship in Kathmandu, Bhupi (Buphendra Ghirmrie, VIN´s director) asked me to write something about my experience. I answered yes, but also said that I would require some time to think it over. Now, eight months later, with ideas better in place, it is still quite complicated.

Skilling, challenging, opportunity, lifetime… not enough words to express how many experiences I have been through during my stay at VIN´s International Journalism Internship.

Snap the sunshine over mount Everest, attend the main politics achievements in Kathmandu, be witness of maoist strikes at the front line, tell about homeless kids life, pulse street for new constitution, support and empower women uprising in social roles, give voice to unvoiced people, meet writers, politicians, chairmen, shopkeepers, porters… focus on new influences and evolution of a country who is claming for its future. There, what kind of journalist would you like to be? – Make your choice! I chose all of them.

I did my internships at New Spotlight Magazine. Five months working hand by hand with Keshab Poudel, Spotlight´s editor and, also, my hostfather. He tought me how simple journalism can sometimes be, just be clear, direct and honest. My answer was always the same “That is more that many people can afford in my country”; we laughed a lot with this.

He taught me journalism as it was in the old days, without relying on the Internet, people answering the phone on the spot, or working even without electricity. Old-school journalism, as studied at the universities in Europe in subjects which name begins with “History of…”; he also taught me to remain calm regardless the situation, either leaving me alone among diplomats and foreign dignitaries, or taking pictures from Maoist strikes in the streets. Thanks to him I did not lack work nor learning.

At the same time I feel proud to have shown him the Internet more as an ally rather than as a competitor. There is more to see on his webpage now, it has improved greatly since I left.

In addition to it, the Internships had another important dimension; an inseparable dimension from the professional aspect. As I said before, Keshab Poudel, apart from being my boss was also my host-father. Not only did I live a new journalistic experience at Spotlight but I also learned what life is like as a Nepali, in Kotheswor district. That was my neighborhood and also the place where I felt the tempo of the oriental culture. This key role was played by Sarita Poudel, Keshab’s wife. She cared and looked after me in her house as if I was a member of her family. She told me stories about Nepal, explaining me how life was there. Thanks to her, my experience, big enough already, happened to become huge.

Both ways, I grew up to an extent I could never even conceive. Nepal however still had a treasure for me: the great adventure. I went to Nepal to develop as a journalist; as icing on the cake, I trekked to the Everest Base Camp. All Keshab’s teachings, Sarita’s energy helped me to write the story I had always dreamed of until then: chronic of adventure in the Himalayas. During the month I walked through the roof of the world, I felt myself in harmony with life: me, my legs, the way, my work, the mysticism of the environment, the sky, everything together emerging between the rocks in such a comprehensive manner that everything is little and great at the same time. At that time not only did I complete my journalistic mission and my mission as a pilgrim, but also the culmination of the greatest moment of my life.

A few weeks later I returned home. My parents made me a farewell ceremony. The day I left to Spain, my father accompanied me to the door of airport security, in tears, and remained in the doorway saying goodbye like my mother did. She had to stay and was not able to accompany me to the airport, as it was part of the ritual: the house had to remain open until nothing would be left for me or my spirit to stay trapped there while I was on the other side of the world.

When I went back home, everything was different, so much light, so many cars, everyone hurrying up, numbers everywhere… so many trademarks. My experience was “ritualproof”… I left something in Nepal and I’m sure I’ll go back for it.

Many thanks to VIN for making this possible.

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