The Oxford Dictionary defines culture as “the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.” Comparing and contrasting trends in American culture with Nepali ideas, customs, and social behaviors will help us map the community landscape and identify challenges to community resilience. This view of landscape may provide evidence of Nepal’s low contribution to global GHG emissions relative to the U.S. and help us identify culturally compatible strategies for building resilience to weather and climate change related events and disasters. Our experience as members of Dickinson’s culture and American culture in general are the baseline for our analysis. The baseline culture is largely defined by overconsumption, convenience, and a large number of options when faced with a decision. During our trip, we may pay particular attention to infrastructure, human values, religion, and tradition to interpret culture.
As travelers in a new country, we are likely to use this lens by default. We take many aspects of our own culture for granted because we are used to it, and it is the standard by which we judge everything else. Simple aspects of daily life, such as food and transportation, will stand out much more to us in Nepal because they are different from our own. By consciously viewing landscape as culture, we can harness our already increased awareness of the culture around us. We can also account for our own biases, keeping in mind that our own culture may influence our perceptions of what resilience is and how well these communities stack up. We can challenge ourselves to take Nepali ways at face value, and to understand resilience in a way that is relevant to the people we are working with.