In November 2017, a high school student group from St Joseph Institute, Singapore, joined us at our base in Pokhara, Nepal, to participate in a service-learning program. The teen volunteers walked in with the normal pre-conceptions. What they walked away with was a fuller understanding of themselves and the world they live in. But don’t take it from us. Let them tell you about the lessons they learned.
The Joy Of Helping Others
The atmosphere in Nepal was different from what I expected, it was more underdeveloped and polluted. Furthermore, the students in Nepal viewed education in a completely different way from us. They were passionate and wanted to be educated to be able to improve their society, whereas in Singapore most of us are more worried about the money than about the good education can bring. The way we find ourselves joyful after helping out and educating the students allowed us to realise the simpleness of being happy, or rather its flaw that the less you have the happier you are.
Wherever You Go, People Are People
Poverty. Danger. Discrimination. These words crossed my mind as I boarded the plane to Kathmandu. These words etched into my mind from my parents’ reminders. These words are synonyms to a developing country. And yet, there was joy, warmth, gratitude. The students from Shamrock, Little Daffodil School and Pame Government School had little, but they still managed to live. They knew of American pop music, joked around, and played till their hearts were content. People are people.
I am so different from the people here in Nepal. I enjoy the convenience and accessibility of technology. They do not. I sit in smooth car rides with orderly traffic and ride bicycles on smooth pavements. They do not. I can walk along the streets without fear. (Some of them) do not. But these differences are differences that come from the environment, but inside we are the same. We have ambitions, we want equality, we are adaptable. This trip has shown me how different two countries are, but how similar the people living in it are.
Understand Your Privilege
Back in 2015, I visited Nepal for a family holiday and coming back here gave me much to think. I saw the impact the earthquake had on the lives of the people here, how they had to get back on their feet after a traumatising experience – all this really struck me because I started to realise we take too much for granted. We fail to understand the simplicity of life and how to really immerse ourselves in nature since we’re always surrounded by buildings. I believe I have understood the importance of taking a step back to see how privileged you are. On a lighter note, the kids were really cute and it was so easy to make conversation with the students our age. The views from the trek were breathtaking and I would do this experience all over again in a heartbeat. Thank you!
The Power Of Self-Discovery
I felt that this trip brought out a lot in me that I didn’t know I had. I always found myself to be incredibly selfish but during this trip, I found that if others were suffering really badly, I would be willing to help. I also found out that hatred for people didn’t matter, as the few people who absolutely hated me were still willing to work with me. Lastly, I loved how friendly everyone was because I imagined this would be more like a military boot camp. Thanks for having us, and I hope I didn’t cause too many brain cells to die.
Gratitude Is Everything
I really enjoyed my time in Nepal. Learning about their culture through interacting with the Nepalese students has taught me a lot, especially about being appreciative. In Singapore, I never truly understood how much of a privilege education was, until I saw the students. They were so passionate in everything they did, and I felt ashamed about not being thankful for what I have. Also, the way in which the students treated everyone with so much respect and sincerity really touched me. Despite meeting them for the first time, they were so eager to talk to me and overcome this language barrier. All in all, I am really grateful for this experience and the many values of life I have learnt from it.
Further reading: 6 Critical Global Issues | What Are The World’s Biggest Problems