The SALT program provides great opportunities to live in and learn about exciting new cultures. Working as a Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor for a food security project in Nepal broadened my understanding of international relations and encouraged me to adopt alternative values. The ability to understand another worldview and narrative is an asset as societies becomes more globalized and diverse.
Relationships forged with my host families and colleagues have been a blessing. Although being treated like family is subject to cultural norms that can potentially leave you comatose, such as being made to eat three heaping portions of Bhat (rice) before you start your day, it also means being welcomed to countless weddings and invited to visit relatives in India.
One of the highlights abroad was travelling with my host family to Darjeeling India during the Nepali holiday, Tihar, The Festival of Lights where we stayed with their relatives in a remote mandarin-farming village. My time spent fishing, playing soccer, cooking, butchering, daily chores, and hiking during the week gave me the opportunity to befriend many in the community. Becoming part of my host family allowed me to integrate, making connections with people that challenged my existing worldviews.
Though cross-cultural work can be arduous and contentious, the multifaceted narratives one interacts with and adopts are highly rewarding. The SALT program has given me an inclusive global outlook that has allowed me to work more effectively with diverse populations at home. I would recommend anyone who has a willingness to learn and is seeking adventure to apply.
-Stefan Dyck was a SALT participant in 2013-2014