Taiwan Tech’s USR team travels to Pokhara, Nepal, to revitalize century-old stone houses and enhance disaster resilience - National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
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Taiwan Tech’s USR team travels to Pokhara, Nepal, to revitalize century-old stone houses and enhance disaster resilience

During the period of July 21st to August 5th, 2023, Taiwan Tech's USR team, "Infinite South - Sustainable Co-construction of Urban and Infinite University", led by Associate Professor Po-Chien Hsiao from the Department of Construction Engineering, along with 16 Taiwan Tech students and staff, embarked on a journey to Pisang, Nepal. They collaborated with the Taipei City Zhu Zhu Mama Children's Education and Care Association to revitalize century-old cultural assets and establish disaster preparedness and evacuation mechanisms.

A photograph was taken in front of the century-old stone slate house, capturing the Taiwan Tech team alongside members of the Taipei City Zhu Zhu Mama Children's Education and Care Association.

A photograph was taken in front of the century-old stone slate house, capturing the Taiwan Tech team alongside members of the Taipei City Zhu Zhu Mama Children's Education and Care Association.

The team's initiative involves restoring a century-old traditional stone slate house, intended to serve as a narrative hub. By amalgamating the local disaster preparedness mechanisms, cultural heritage context, natural landscapes, agricultural practices, and religious elements of Pisang town, the team aims to enhance the resilience and sustainable development of the settlement. The narrative hub will seamlessly incorporate local historical and cultural stories, while also planning to retail agriculturally related products.

Associate Professor Po-Chien Hsiao elucidated that the Taiwan Tech students initially engaged with local elders to glean insights into traditional building techniques. This encompassed the acquisition of materials, construction methodologies, and traditional building customs. Furthermore, they surveyed the stone slate house meticulously, verifying its current condition and precise dimensions. These findings will be instrumental upon their return to Taiwan to draft architectural structural and elevation plans, facilitate structural analysis, and finalize repair and renovation designs.

The Taiwan Tech team conducted on-site survey and mapping processes at the century-old stone slate house.

The Taiwan Tech team conducted on-site survey and mapping processes at the century-old stone slate house.

Building upon their domestic initiatives in community disaster preparedness, the Taiwan Tech team is leveraging the revitalization of Pisang town's trail network to establish disaster preparedness mechanisms and tourism guidance, thereby enhancing local disaster resilience. The team has meticulously undertaken comprehensive measurements and mapping efforts pertaining to the town's road network and building structures. This includes measurements of road gradients, house dimensions, and public facilities, essential for the creation of a 3D geographic information model of the town. Additionally, this data will facilitate the design of evacuation route maps and refuge point markers.

During the evenings, the Taiwan Tech team gathered to consolidate the results of their mapping efforts and engage in discussions.

During the evenings, the Taiwan Tech team gathered to consolidate the results of their mapping efforts and engage in discussions.

Furthermore, team members took the initiative to enter a local public elementary school, where they imparted earthquake disaster response procedures. This included conducting a "Draw My Hometown" activity focused on disaster mapping, aimed at instilling disaster awareness and concepts among the local children. Moreover, they actively participated in the Himalayan mountain clean-up initiative, an experience designed to reinforce students' environmental consciousness and appreciation through direct involvement.
The Taiwan Tech team's interaction with local elementary school children in Pisang

The Taiwan Tech team's interaction with local elementary school children in Pisang.

Li-Yi Zhang, a sophomore student from the Department of Construction Engineering, Taiwan Tech, expressed that the engineering practical experience in Nepal allowed them to tangibly apply their acquired measurement skills and attain an unprecedented sense of accomplishment. Throughout the process, valuable lessons were learned in effective and swift collaborative problem-solving within the team. Moreover, during their visit to the local elementary school, they employed simple language and animated gestures to engage in interactive communication with the children. Nestled amidst the neighboring mountain ranges, the team equipped themselves with tongs and garbage bags, removing litter from the forested paths to contribute to Nepal's environment. This journey to Nepal not only enhanced their professional expertise but also provided a deeper understanding of interpersonal communication and environmental consciousness. It stands as an invaluable experience that will remain indelible in their lives.

Associate Professor Po-Chien Hsiao emphasized that the successful execution of the entire project was attributed not only to the active participation of the team members but also to the support received from the local residents. The residents expressed their appreciation for the students' professional skills and collaborative spirit, which effectively bridged the geographical gap between Taiwan and Nepal. It is hoped that this initiative will yield positive impacts on both Taiwan and Nepal, substantively benefiting the local communities while nurturing a sense of social responsibility and global perspective among the team members.

Since its early stages in 2020, the Taiwan Tech USR initiative "Infinite South - Sustainable Co-construction of Urban and Infinite University" has been aiding residents of remote villages in Nepal, addressing their livelihood challenges. This encompasses earthquake aftermath environmental reconstruction and rejuvenation for institutions such as childcare centers, families, and primary school campuses. Pisang, the current focus, is situated in the Manang region of Nepal and lies along the Annapurna Circuit Trek (ACT) trail, making it an essential stop for trekkers. The town primarily operates guesthouses that offer brief accommodations for trekkers. However, due to limited resources and economic constraints, the community has faced rapid decline and significant outward migration, leading to the gradual disappearance of the settlement.

The Taiwan Tech team's involvement in a mountain cleanup initiative.

The Taiwan Tech team's involvement in a mountain cleanup initiative.

 

 

 

 

 

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