The tourism industry around Mt. Everest has radically changed the lives of Nepal's Sherpas. National Geographic Young Explorer and photographer Max Lowe recently spent two months in Nepal's Khumbu region, documenting some of those changes.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.
1 What does the word 'sherpa' mean?
2 What happened sixty years ago?
3 What was the Sherpa lifestyle like three or four generations ago?
4 What positive changes in the Sherpa lifestyle are mentioned?
5 What's the main disadvantage all these changes have brought, according to the lamas?
6 What has the influx of tourism brought to the region?
7 What examples of 'things getting better' are mentioned at the end of the video?
You can check your answers by reading the transcript below.
The Sherpa are one of 70 ethnic groups within Nepal and they migrated over from Tibet. Their name means Easterner (1). So, they came to the mountains and they settled the higher regions of the Himalayas. And, just by chance of living where they have, they’ve become connected to mountain climbing.
The Sherpa culture fundamentally changed in 1953, sixty years ago, when Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Everest (2). And at this point, it went from their very rural idyllic lifestyle to one being in the twentieth century, and now the twenty-first century.
Within the span of three-to-four generations, they’ve gone from a very much agrarian, pastoral society with few things that we take for granted (3), to a society, now, that has connected with mobile phones, and the internet, and jet travel, and interaction between many more humans.
The changes that I saw just in the last ten years were pretty substantial. As far as what people told me they had seen, as far as change, education was a big one; healthcare: there’s a dentist there; there’s medical clinics; the clothing is better (4). Kancha Sherpa, who, was actually on the 1953 expedition, he was a really interesting guy to talk to. He has seen pretty much the whole field of changes that have occurred.
A lot of the Lamas and people who still are practicing in the region, they really lamented the fact more than anyone else just because people are moving away from the old religious ways of life. And they told me at least that with all this endless self-gain available, people are losing focus on the purity and kind of simple life that they once had. People are losing the ability to focus on true happiness (5).
The influx of tourism has brought a lot of money into the region (6). And, with that, a lot of people recognize that they can go much further, as far as advancement, now that they have this connection with the outside world.
I’ve heard… some people in Namche have told me that, many people from Khumjung leave to go live elsewhere in the world. A lot of people from Khumjung go to other countries.
Yes. Many people are in the U.S.A., from Khumjung. U.S.A., Europe and Japan.
They are not satisfied with tourism, with the small money from tourism. They want to earn big money. And they want to change their lifestyle. Like being European and American like that.
At the same time a lot of things are getting better in the region. The food is a lot more diverse, so people’s diets are much more healthy. Clothing’s better. Building materials are safer. There’s electricity. There’re cell phones. You can get cell phone reception at Everest base camp now, which is a pretty crazy idea (7).