Teej is a Nepali holiday that celebrates the love married women hold for their maternal families, and this year it happened to fall during my first week of work. Twenty minutes into the office party, most people were in the center of the room dancing. It wasn’t long before a coworker noticed me hovering shyly at the outskirts of the circle and grabbed my hands, pulling me toward the dance floor. I tried to come up with the right words to explain my apprehension, but only managed to stammer “नाच्न नजान्ने”: I don’t know how to dance. She looked at me like I’d said I didn’t know how to spell my name—and nudged me out onto the floor.

I actually love dancing though, and once I let go of my inhibitions, I had a blast. I was still smiling as I coaxed my motorbike to life and started driving home, silently promising the universe that from then on, I would never sit and watch. I’d always dance.

I’d meant this vow as a kind of symbolic pledge to try new activities during my Luce year, but there have been lots of occasions to honor it quite literally. In the last six months, I’ve danced in living rooms and streets, on a stage, in a film set, on buses, and while picking my way down narrow mountain trails. This wasn’t an activity I’d anticipated doing so regularly in disaster risk management work, but building resilience requires understanding what people value and what drives their emotions. Developing relationships with communities the way PHASE Nepal, my placement organization, has done, takes trust and time— time spent making people laugh, learning about their families, and maybe shaking your hips a little.

PHASE Nepal is a local NGO that supports health, agriculture, and education initiatives in some of Nepal’s most remote communities. In the U.S., “remote” living might involve dial-up Internet and several hours of uninterrupted country highway. In Nepal, it can mean up to three days of driving on precarious roads, followed by several more days on foot through steep mountains (as a side note, the move from Appalachia to the Himalayas has forced me to redefine what qualifies as a “mountain”). The earthquake and aftershocks that devastated Nepal in 2015 exacerbated every challenging element of rural life, intensifying economic and social inequities. In seeking out new perspectives on how to thoughtfully consider caste, ethnicity, gender, and language in my work, I’ve learned amazing and difficult lessons about the nuances of the work I do and the culture and history of the country I’ve grown to love.

But no matter how much one learns, it’s hard to grasp all of the ongoing implications of an event that destroyed nearly 90 percent of structures in the most affected districts and directly killed nearly 10,000 people. The earthquake catalyzed the ratification of a new constitution and reorganized the political system, inspiring a great deal of hope for Nepal and no small amount of uncertainty.

This year, uncertainty seems to pop up in all shapes and sizes. It can be beautiful or scary, or—as is most often the case—a little of both. But when in doubt, I dance.