One Way Ticket

A Novella of Cross Cultural-Experience in Nepal

Sanno Keeler

Anthropologists occasionally turn to “fiction” to convey the deeper texture of their experiences. Sanno Keeler composed this novella for the same reason while still a student.

One Way Ticket was written in 1969 but the story is suffused with an aura of timelessness. The author deftly portrays the quest to understand the unity-in-diversity of the human world. The narrative illuminates the joys, disappointments, and even tragedy that can accompany the circumstances of cross-cultural situations.

One Way Ticket is a multi-level journey. In addition to memorably portraying landscapes, city streets, village settlements, and people, the author captures thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and nuances of relationship that are ordinarily illusive and often fleeting.

There is a real freshness in the writing, but at the same time a kind of wistful and almost tragic aura - this not just a story about trekking to a remote village of an ancient culture.

At one point, the narrator concludes that for her “consciousness is above innocence.” Within this comment, the story develops an undertow that heads for deep water and a dramatic twist.

Sanno Keeler and Surjit Singh, September 1968

Sanno Keeler at RS Pura Agricultural School September 1968

About the Author

Sanno Keeler was the first graduate of the global education program of Friends World College (1970). When Sanno Keeler entered the college's inaugural class in the fall of 1965, she embarked on a “world education” program of cross-cultural learning that led to the creation of this book.

Students at Friends World College kept a journal in which they recorded their learning experiences. Each senior was then required to complete a project that brought a significant aspect of his or her learning into clear focus.

She composed One Way Ticket in 1969 as her senior project. While she said it was a work of fiction, not autobiography, she obviously drew on a collection of experiences with different people in various cross-cultural contexts, and blended them into this luminous story set in northern India and central Nepal.

She did graduate study University of Connecticut and became a teacher of migrant worker’s children in California. Sanno Keeler died in 1991

Remembering Sanno Keeler by Jim Spickard

I heard about Friends World College(FWC) from Sanno Keeler on our first date. We had met each other a few weeks before at a contra dance festival. We seemed to be the only two dancers with a social conscience, so she invited me for a day of canoeing on Elkhorn Slough, on the central California coast. I arrived, we talked and canoed for six or seven hours, and I heard about her childhood, her parent’s early deaths, Quaker boarding school in backwoods British Columbia, and her travels in the FWC program. I was fascinated. I had been abroad, of course; in fact, I almost didn’t return to the U.S. in the late 1960s, the political situation being what it was. Yet Sanno had such a bright outlook on the world. She had an affirming sense of human possibility, a get-in-there-and-fix-things attitude that I couldn’t help but find attractive. Day stretched into evening, we went back to her house and cooked a small diner, and I essentially never left. Ten years, two kids, and a lot of memories later, she died at home of breast cancer, surrounded by family and friends. I think she had been happy. I know I was – and I was extremely lucky that she was a part of my life.

Sanno had lots of stories about FWC. She was in the first class, so the school was just a few steps ahead of her as she moved through its foreign programs. Her second year, in Tromse, Norway, was especially formative. Her host had actively resisted the German invasion in World War Two, which meshed with her politics and her memory of her activist father. I think it also gave her a stable family life, something every orphan needs. We visited them in Norway the first summer we were together. Køre (the father) took us to my own great-grandfather’s village, near where he had been raised. We bicycled up the Gudbrands Valley and across the Jotenheimen Mountains, staying with people she had known. I was impressed with how easily she picked up again with folks she had not seen in years. She had the facility for deep friendships.

I heard fewer stories about Tanzania and India. She talked of working with Jane Goodall, and the perspective that watching chimpanzees gave her on our own babies. (“Look,” she’d say, “It’s an ‘excited food grunt’.”) Of India, I learned about Vinoba Bhave, the various Gandhian movements, and the complexity of Indian life. Our daughter, Janaki, is named after one of her FWC teachers. I sensed there were a few scars from those years, but she never talked about them.

Nor did I learn until recently about One Way Ticket.

I knew Sanno had written stories in school and I had read some of them, but she didn’t share this one. She didn’t write much during our first years together, either. She enjoyed her job teaching migrant farmworker kids and was delighted when we had two of our own. She took up writing again in the late 1980s. She crafted several stories and a few novellas, one of which she worked on during her last illness. I suspect she would have pursued a career at it, had she lived. I sensed something stirring in her. I periodically wonder what path she would have taken, and how it would have affected the rest of us. I’ll never know.

I do know, though, that she was a deep spirit. Our family is glad to have One Way Ticket published and to share it with the Friends World community. Its themes of cross-cultural understanding and social justice were at the heart of Sanno’s life. Friends World College was, too.

Jim Spickard

March 2015

A Note About This Book

One Way Ticket was published by Chapel Street Editions as a special project in coordination with The Friends World College Memories Project as part of the college's 50th anniversary celebration. While it falls outside of our direct mandate of publishing the work of writers and artists of our region, it speaks to our larger goal of supporting books that advance an understanding of the relationship between the natural world, culture, and human stewardship of the environment. Keith Helmuth, Chapel Street Editions’ publisher, was a member of the faculty when Sanno Keeler was a student at Friends World College.”

Paperback • 109 pages • $15.00(CAD), $12.00(US) • ISBN 978-0-9936725-4-5 • Published 2015/06/02

Sanno Keeler

Sanno Keeler and Jim Spickard hiking in Norway 1980