Lauren Tebbetts - High School Specials, Care & Community in Nepal
The year I went to Nepal I was in a club that worked to raise money and awareness for children in poverty, especially for those in third world countries. My friend and I thought it’d be a good idea to travel abroad to get a first-hand experience of the poverty and how it affected the children.
My friend found the Projects Abroad website online, but while we were trying to decide between India and Nepal, she found out she could no longer go. Untroubled by this new development, I decided to go alone on the High School Special to Nepal, which I felt instantly drawn to.
Arriving in Nepal
Arriving in Kathmandu, I was taken aback by the beauty that surrounded us, everything was so green and the mountains painted into the background were gorgeous. The ride to our hotel was very interesting. The city was bustling and filled, yet it had such a different feel from other cities, like New York or London. There were rickshaws and little makeshift set-ups with handmade goods to sell. Everything was so colorful. Even our rooms in the hotel were bright and colorful. I felt very comfortable soon after I arrived.
I volunteered at an elementary school with eight other volunteers my age and our program leader. Our first day there we were greeted by all the school children and staff, along with tons of flowers, hugs, and kisses on the cheek. Everyone there was so happy and grateful to see us and made us feel right at home.
My Volunteer Project
Our main project at the school was to clean up some of the classrooms and repaint them to make them brighter and more kid-friendly. It was fun getting to decide what design we wanted for each room and how to go about it. We never had to worry about getting too tired because there was typically extra help around and the kids were always very willing to help out whenever they could.
Whenever any of us weren’t working, we were playing with the kids, many of whom knew a surprising amount of English. They loved to sing and dance and would always beg us to teach them something new, so I taught them the song and dance to “Cotton-Eyed Joe” which they absolutely loved (although some of them mistook the title as “Kathmandu”).
The children were all so loving and grateful and were constantly hugging us or holding our hands. All over the school you could find scrawled onto the walls positive phrases like: “I love you” and “[insert name] is beautiful.” They loved to show off by doing flips and other acrobatic acts off the tables and in their playground and were always excited to teach us what they knew.
For the weekend trip we went to Chitwan National Park, which was a total adventure! We went on nature walks, and went canoeing, and saw a lot of wild animals, like rhinos, alligators, and monkeys. We saw cultural shows and enjoyed exploring the town we were staying in, which created some great bonding moments.
Although the weekend trip was a nice break, it was great to get back to helping out at the school, where we had become close with many of the students. On the last day at the placement, instead of working, we got to set up stations of coloring, games, and more for the kids, and help them out.
As a surprise, at the end of our day, the students got together and did numerous dances for us, and afterwards, we were given traditional scarfs and a certificate thanking us for our work at the school.
My whole experience in Nepal was filled with excitement, happiness, and plenty of learning experiences. The culture was so rich and I instantly felt simultaneously at home and intrigued as I walked through the streets and shops and tried out different food and clothes. I could not have asked for a better placement to work at either. The people there were among some of the most kind and welcoming that I have ever met, and those memories will stay with me forever.