Bachelor of Environmental Design (Architecture) and 1 year of Master of Architecture
I completed professional placement in Bhulbhule, a remote village in the Lamjung District, Gandaki Zone, Northern-central Nepal with Aussie Action Abroad, affiliated with Architects Without Frontiers http://www.aussieactionabroad.com as a construction participant.
My aim was to assist a community who had identified an infrastructure need, but lacked the capacity to construct the project independently and to develop my basic building skills and techniques; to expand upon my experience working with various tradesmen; to immerse myself in the country and culture; to trek the Annapurna Trail without the assistance of a porter; and to visit the historic architecture and world heritage sites of Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.
Our construction team completed a 5.7m by 15m shelter for community celebrations, festivals and meetings, initiated by the Amma Samuha (women's group) of Bhulbhule.
I was incredibly auspicious to achieve all my secondary objectives: Not only was I provided with practical experience laying bricks, mixing mortar and concrete, and waterproofing an existing roof, I worked in close collaboration with local tradesmen including bricklayers, builders, stonemasons and welders; I immersed myself in the country and culture, absorbing information from both a broad and personal perspective; I trekked 75km of the Annapurna Trail with a 14kg pack, unassisted by a porter; and I witnessed the awe-inspiring architecture of Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.
HMA251 Volunteering in Asia and HMA253 Professional Placement in Asia proved invaluable to my professional placement in Nepal. Not only did I develop the capacity to critically evaluate volunteer organisations, I became erudite in the effects of culture shock and how to be culturally sensitive whilst abroad. Furthermore, the course encouraged me to continuously ask questions, to gain clarity on cultural differences, and to ask myself why I felt a certain way when confronted with new challenges.
In Nepal, death is not cloaked in a casket in the privacy of a church as it is in Australia. Death was evident in everyday life, whether it was a buffalo being butchered on the side of the street, or the deceased draped on concrete pedestals at Pashupatinath, the holiest Hindu Shrine in Nepal.