Charlotte Yuen - Care & Community in Nepal
I signed up for Projects Abroad's High School Special Care & Community placement in Nepal with high hopes and I was not disappointed.
Arriving in Nepal
My jaw dropped as I entered the arrivals hall in Kathmandu, Nepal. I knew that Nepal was a developing country, but was that a wild monkey I saw hanging from a beam across the hall? I remember a giddy smile filled with excitement growing on my face. I had not even stepped out of the airport and I was already experiencing some culture shock. I couldn't wait to see what the next two weeks would bring.
My Care & Community Placement
The first day involved mostly introductions. I had signed up for the High School Special and thus would be working with a group of teens that were around my age for the next two weeks. I met people from all around the world, from France, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Korea and more. Some did not speak English very well, which made it all the more fun as we tried to get our ideas across via hand motions.
The next two weeks were spent painting the walls of an elementary school on the outskirts of Kathmandu. It was not boring one-color painting, no; it was a fun choose-your-own-design type of painting. I had signed up for the volunteer program with a close friend of mine and the both of us decided to paint a scene from the movie Tangled and a mural featuring hot air balloons.
Although there was hard work involved, as we had to clean the room and scrub off the rust on the windows and doors before we were allowed to paint. It was ultimately a very fun and creative experience. In the afternoon, we would take a break from painting and play with the children at the school.
I have never met such happy children in my life! We took plenty of pictures together, sang songs, played tag and laughed. The girls and I would braid each other's hair. One of the girls wove me a bracelet out of grass and it is more valuable to me than my most expensive possessions. I remember reluctantly saying goodbye when I had to return to Kathmandu.
Traveling in Nepal
The food in Nepal is amazing; the spices, the tea and the sweets! I wolfed down every plate of food that was served to me, not because I was hungry (well alright, it might have had a little bit to do with me being hungry.) but because it was delicious. Everything was bursting with flavor. In the evenings, I would roam the streets of Thamel with my friends, purchasing exotic jewelry, handmade paper, colorful clothing and intricate wooden statues.
The people in Nepal are the kindest people I have ever met in my life. Back in Toronto, smiling at a stranger is considered creepy. In Nepal, I could smile and start a conversation with anyone. I was always greeted by friendly faces and everyone was eager to chat with me. I learned so much about the daily lives of the Nepali people simply by sitting down and starting with a simple "hello".
My last day in Nepal was a gloomy one. Saying goodbye to my fellow volunteers was hard and saying goodbye to the Nepali people whom I met during my two weeks was even harder. I arrived in Nepal hoping to change the lives of some of the Nepali people. It was I who ended up being changed.