Thursday, 12 February 2015
Our Unforgettable Time in Pokhara, Nepal
PROJECT: Unibreak Placement (Education & Nursing)
WRITTEN BY: Julia Quine
This final blog post is going to be a hard one to write, as I have to try and sum up four weeks of unforgettable experiences and reflections into one small blog post. So bear with me, it might get a tad rambly.
I have begun writing this post after getting home from a farewell dinner with the group, Sonam, Kalden and their family. After having to bid farewell to Sonam and Kalden a few days earlier than we anticipated, it has added an acutely emotional edge to the thought of our last few days here in beautiful Pokhara.
The past four weeks have honestly been some of the most enriching experiences of my life. Beyond the volunteering placements themselves, it is the community we got to live in that made the whole month that much more incredible. The community is a Tibetan settlement that was initially set up as a refugee village for those that were fleeing Tibet due to the situation with China.
It may sound trite, but the community atmosphere that is fostered within the settlement is like no other. The moment you step outside your door, there are more often that not people around greeting you with a cheerful “Tashi Delek!” It only took a couple of days before we felt well and truly at home. I would certainly consider it a privilege to be welcomed into this community, and there is so much to learn from everyone there. My host family were all incredible people, and taught Tennessee and I so much about the Tibetan situation over all the amazing meals they made for us.
In between these amazing homestays and volunteering placements, we were also able to make weekend trips to places such as Chitwan National Park and Lumbini, which added even more memories to our time in Nepal.
Volunteering is one of those things that people often add to a bucket list without realising just how much of an impact it can have on you personally. In just 4 weeks, one place has had such an effect on me to the point where I am already formulating plans to return in a year or two and make my connection with the school I taught at a long-term and hopefully valuable one.
I suppose that’s my most important piece of advice when it comes to volunteering – enter with reasonable expectations. One month is not enough time to make any huge, significant differences to the embedded systems in the countries you’ll go to. It is in all the small moments that build the foundation of a worthy experience. So enjoy all those little moments, form close connections with the children you’re teaching and never let a day go by where you don’t stand back for a moment and remember the privilege you have in the first place to even be in this situation.
We have left this experience with memories, new friends and new families that have all contributed to the fabric of the amazing, amazing time we have all had in Pokhara. If you are considering undertaking a volunteering project, seriously consider Pokhara. The in-country partners are so supportive, the placements were all eye opening, and you will make friends that will be friends for life.
For now, it is time for us to go continue our sad farewells. As they say - ‘Savanina!’
The January 2015 Unibreak Pokhara Team xx