My trip to Nepal began with a charity called VCD Nepal (Volunteer for Community Development), who were simply incredible. I lived initially with the charity's director and his wife in their home in Kathmandu, where I had cultural orientation and language lessons for a few days. They were two of the kindest and most altruistic people I have ever met, and learning about all the charity work they do with such dedication was a really inspiring part of the trip.
After this, I stayed for the majority of the month with a family in a small village called Godawari. The people I met were one of the highlights of my trip because it always amazed me how welcoming and loving they were to complete strangers. It was really special to be taken into the family and be treated like their daughter or sister, and it really showed how cultural differences and language barriers are really very minor obstacles if you have an open mind.
I was fortunate to arrive in time for the women’s festival (Deej) in the village, which was a really great opportunity to experience their religious rituals and all the celebratory dancing. I found the basic living conditions and food tough at times, but it was more than compensated for by the warmth the family showed me and by their incredible joie de vivre.
After the festival, I started volunteering in the village school. Working at the school was a challenging but very rewarding experience. Initially I helped an English primary school teacher, which was useful to get to know the students’ abilities before being given classes to take on my own. I drew on my memories of lessons at Wimbledon High to think of fun language games, and it was very satisfying to see how well they responded to new ideas.
I also wanted to teach them about England and different cultures, because I was painfully aware from conversations with the family that very few of the kids would ever leave Nepal, and so I wanted to try and bring some of the wider world to their remote village.
The trip also really focused my mind on what I want to do in the future. I’ve never really had an idea of what I want to do after university, but after this trip, I know that I want to help people in some capacity. I don’t think that teaching is the best option for me, but I want to do some form of humanitarian work whether it’s with a charity or a more governmental role that helps reverse some of the injustices in the world.
Although I was moved by the unending positivity and energy of the villagers, I was saddened by how little they have. This was particularly noticeable in the school, where my students were so bright and enthusiastic about learning but will only have limited opportunities in the future, especially the girls. It’s made me much more determined to do something about these ongoing problems, especially the gender divide which seems to be accepted as part of their culture.
I finished the trip travelling around Nepal, which included a visit to the Chitwan National Park and an amazing trek in the lower Annapurnas. The charity organised this for me and ensured that I trekked in areas that weren’t on the popular tourist trails so that I was supporting the economies of communities which rarely receive much income from tourism. I really enjoyed the chance to meet locals in isolated mountainous communities and the challenge of the trek combined with the stunning views to create a very rewarding test of perseverance.
Overall, my trip was a really incredible experience. The Nepali people have such a kind and welcoming country and it was such a special feeling to be taken into families to fully immerse myself in their wonderful culture. Volunteering in the school was also a very rewarding experience and I really enjoyed teaching the children.
The whole experience really gave me more perspective on how fortunate I am to have so many opportunities and also how much change still needs to occur in the world. I really am struggling to put into words just how special the trip was, so thank you for the amazing opportunity and I will take everything I learnt from it with me as I start university.