News BlogLatest News From Our Volunteers in Nepal


{s5_mp3}{/s5_mp3}One Minute View: Episode 2

These first few weeks have gone fast!  It's amazing how quickly all the newness of such an experience is transformed into a mostly reliable routine. That routine serves as a safety net for all the unknowns in a day. A common theme that has come up for us is the idea of "what gets lost in translation anyway?". This idea is multi-dimensional and in it is reflected a person's story, a person's belief system, how a person understands something, and how well our language conveys across culture the story we are telling. Our interpreters are trained very well for their jobs - they are excellent! They make the exchange almost seamless! They not only interpret what we say and what our patients say, but they also have to interpret the context and the emotion of what is said.

It's similar to a game of telephone but rather than the story being changed through a long line of people, it is more a matter of how our stories get filtered through our different ways of experiencing the world. Despite our mostly clear communication, we realize that some concepts don't exist in one culture exactly the same as it does in another.  I recently learned that there really is not a word in Nepali for "throbbing", as in a throbbing headache, but rather the interpreter explains that the patient says, "the headache feels like it does when you have your finger on someone's pulse." It's a beautiful moment when it comes together like that!

I sit back at the end of a day of treating patients and observing the other practitioners treating, and settle on this idea:  what gets lost in translation is made up for by watching someone's facial expression, by observing a persons hands when they talk, by watching their chest rise and fall to understand their breathing, by noticing how someone gets in or out of their chair, by paying attention to the tone of their voice behind the story, by palpating the spots that hurt, and by looking in their eyes clearly for the moment when the ritualistic "namaste" is exchanged in their coming and going. Sometimes the story matches what we expect to hear - "I have diabetes, I have knee pain, or I have burning and tingling in my feet" and other times the story makes us see something differently as a person shares that they believe they might have a curse on them, or they had an organ removed and then put back in the right place, or sometimes a nerve grows out of the corner of their toe and when it does it hurts and they cut it off. As a practitioner, sometimes I rely on the story I'm hearing while other times I may follow a feeling or intuition of the experience that seems to resonate in their story. In the case of the mystery toe pain... Maybe they're telling me they have an ingrown toenail that feels incredibly nervy and painful or maybe they are experiencing something that is completely lost in translation. As I work though the many puzzles and mysteries I come to this essential realization. The realization that if we learn to listen carefully and do our best to hear not only the story they share but also the story they embody, the treatment we offer can speak better to the overall CARE of that individual patient. The more we improve in this skill, the more we minimize all that gets lost along the way. The story that each of us shares, through the bridge of an interpreter or through the descriptive sounds and the hand gestures, are the stories that link us together.  It is the sharing of our stories that creates deeper understanding and compassion between us and opens our eyes to much more than what simple words can convey. – Diane Wintzer

Admin note: This was Diane Wintzer's second trip to Nepal with the Acupuncture Relief Project. This fall she served as our project lead and course instructor. When she is not in Nepal, Diane practices at Fearn Natural Health Clinic in Camas Washington. Thanks Diane for your continued service.

More Articles

  • Tamang


    She sat there like a queen, or a dictator, regally poised in a red plastic chair, her gold-tasseled nose ring eclipsed by her broad nose. Faded tattoos traced the corners

    Read More
  • The Best Medicine of All

    The Best Medicine of All

    I’m totally overdressed, now sweating in my puffy jacket that only a few hours ago seemed totally adequate to stave off the morning frost. The Nepali middle hills tower and

    Read More
  • My Home Away From Home

    My Home Away From Home

    After living in Bajrabahari at the Acupuncture Relief Project headquarters for 3-1/2 months it has become my home. As I think about my “other home” in Portland Oregon it seems

    Read More
  • This Is A Place I Call “Home”

    This Is A Place I Call “Home”

    Sitting in front a window at the Roadhouse in Thamel, realizing I’ll be leaving Nepal in less than 8 hours, feel like unreal. There is a strong voice inside me

    Read More
  • Heart Wrenching at Times and Exhausting at Others

    Heart Wrenching at Times and Exhausting at Others

    It has been a month now I have been living in Bajrabarahi, Nepal and I am in a nice groove. I am consistently seeing around 15-20 patients a day in

    Read More
  • Walkabouts in Nepal’s Agricultural Nirvana

    Walkabouts in Nepal’s Agricultural Nirvana

    As an American Acupuncture volunteer for Acupuncture Relief Project (ARP) in Nepal, I stepped into an eastern culture that is a distant shadow of my own, regarding the traditional farming

    Read More
  • The Work of Farming

    The Work of Farming

    I’ve been moving around for awhile, but for most of my life I lived in one place. There is much to be said about having roots and feeling at home.

    Read More
  • Everyday Acupuncture Podcast

    Everyday Acupuncture Podcast

    Here in the west we are used to seeing acupuncture clinics in an urban setting, and it is often sought as an adjunctive therapy used in combination with other modalities.

    Read More
  • Jatra: The goddess

    Jatra: The goddess

    Patients come on a first come, first served basis, often arriving a little before 6am, slipping their appointment cards under a designated stone on the reception window sill. Many will

    Read More
  • Beyond the White Coat

    Beyond the White Coat

    When I started fundraising for this volunteer trip, many friends asked me why I chose to come to Nepal with ARP, and my simple response was, “to step out of

    Read More
  • Baskets and Knees

    Baskets and Knees

    In the foothills of the Himalayas, Bhajra Barahi is made up of steep hills, the slopes of which have been terraced for farming. These plots of rice, cauliflower, mustard, squash,

    Read More
  • A Day in Bajrabarahi: Where There are No Doctors

    A Day in Bajrabarahi: Where There are No Doctors

    When we open the clinic doors at 8:30, there are usually already a handful of patients waiting outside in the crisp morning air. Patients arrive throughout the day. There are

    Read More
  • Ten Years in Nepal: A Tale of Three Brothers

    Ten Years in Nepal: A Tale of Three Brothers

    The day started like most days, a brisk late-autumn morning with a light frost on the ground and clear blue skies. A breakfast of churra (beaten dried rice), chickpeas and

    Read More
  • Death


    Today's topic: Death! (the author does not pick blog topics; the blog topics choose him) I began thinking about this after hearing that one of our ARP staff members, Tsering,

    Read More
  • Together We Drink Tea

    Together We Drink Tea

    The morning sunlight, through a gap in my curtain reaches onto my bed and teases my skin. I look outside the window to see beautiful blue sky above our mountain

    Read More
  • I love food

    I love food

    Fun fact, my body is 85% digestive tract with the rest being sensory and motor structures that assist me in attaining more food. My genetics are closely related to a

    Read More
  • Return to Baseline

    Return to Baseline

    As part of our long term goals in Nepal, it is our aspiration to train several Nepali born practitioners to serve in our clinics. We have partnered with a small

    Read More
  • Today, I am very happy.

    Today, I am very happy.

    After clinic one day I had the opportunity to experience a wonderful delve into the down country culture of the local folks I've befriended over the last couple weeks. Gunaraj,

    Read More
  • My Bone Problem

    My Bone Problem

    Today I fitted my elderly patient with her (hopefully) semi-permanent shoulder cast. This woman came into the clinic a few weeks ago. I remember treating her knee pain and when

    Read More
  • Worth it

    Worth it

    Having lived my whole life in a developed country, with most of my needs magically looked after for me, it was a cultural shock to see the many inadequacies the

    Read More
  • More than just acupuncture

    More than just acupuncture

    In Bimphedi, a small remote village in the hills south of Katmandu where the acupuncture relief project has a clinic there is also an orphanage. The children that are there

    Read More
  • Trust The Process

    Trust The Process

    It’s been one week in Nepal and 3 days of clinic in Bajra Baraji. I’ve gone through so many emotions and learned so much about practicing primary care in a

    Read More
  • Bookends


    At the beginning of my service with Camp B at Bajra Bahari, my first patient is a 70 year old male with right-side hemiplegia resulting from a stroke. I look

    Read More
  • The Magic of Determination

    The Magic of Determination

    I meet Buddhi for the first time at the end of the second last week of the camp. He had a stroke 5 years ago which affected the mobility of

    Read More
  • Groundlessness


    Nepal for me was a practice in being comfortable with the feeling of groundlessness. Have you ever been on a suspension bridge? Nepal I came to learn, is full of

    Read More
  • Birth


    There was definitely a special something in the air that Saturday night. We had just had a fantastic day off from clinic visiting the home of one of our rock

    Read More
  • Two Realities

    Two Realities

    Has anyone ever seen the movie, or read the book The Hunger Games? I know it is a teen drama but I am not sorry to say I have done

    Read More
  • Compassion is the Communication

    Compassion is the Communication

    I come from a large Russian Orthodox family and an even larger community. I spent my childhood wondering what any limits might be. What would that look like, where would

    Read More
  • My Nepal Experience

    My Nepal Experience

    Nepal and people who live in this country, the Nepalese; where do I begin? It was sensory overload the moment our flight landed in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.

    Read More
  • Avoiding the Finish Line

    Avoiding the Finish Line

    Upon arrival to the ARP Clinic in Bajra Barahi, nestled amongst the peaceful tree covered hills in the countryside of Nepal, I sensed a note of an “uh-oh, what have

    Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

News Archive

(2 articles)

(8 articles)

(15 articles)

(16 articles)

(11 articles)

(12 articles)

(13 articles)

(14 articles)

(10 articles)

(8 articles)

(15 articles)

(9 articles)

Latest Instagram

Follow Us on Facebook

Your Donations Help

In addition to volunteering their time and energy, our practitioners are required to raise the money it takes to support their efforts at our clinic. Please consider helping them by making a tax deductible donation in their name.


Support our work

Donate Volunteer Get in Touch

Support Us