Amelia Carter
Prabatipur - April 15th 2007

Coming to Nepal has been a mind-blowing experience and absolutely incredible in every way shape and form. The people are the warmest I have ever met, the culture is the richest I have ever had the opportunity to observe, and the environment is more beautiful then I could have ever dreamed. 

When I first arrived to Nepal I had a really rough start. The culture shock, among other unfortunate mishaps, hit me in ways that I could have never imagined. But I soon realized that this is to be expected when traveling to a developing country for the first time. I promise though, once you fully understand and embrace the Nepali saying, "Ke garne", everything will some how work itself out and you will be able to enjoy Nepal for the remarkable place it is.

To speak on the volunteer work, it was wonderful. I worked at the library in beautiful Parbatipur, Chitwan. The children were brilliant; they were so anxious to learn and frankly just excited to be in the library. My first four weeks I taught with another volunteer, Lisa. We mostly introduced new vocabulary words and played games. They LOVE board bingo and memory so, between the two, the 4 hour-long classes seemed to fly by.

The lack of teaching guidelines and my lack of teaching experience left me to improvise most of the classes and while the kids seemed content I was left a little unsatisfied with my teaching job. So Lisa's last week and Guilia's first (the new volunteer), we basically turned the library into an arts and crafts center and incorporated vocabulary with each new arts and crafts activity. Then I started two huge projects, which I would have never had the guts or ability to pull off without Guilia --she was an absolute savior (thank you Guilia, you are amazing!). The first was a mural/sign (which our host mother donated to us!) for the library that we had the kids co-design and Lisa drew a beautiful outline for. Guilia and I helped paint the poster with the older kids while the younger kids painted a watercolor version on a giant piece of paper. We completed this project while simultaneously planning for a huge party/field day for the kids. For the party we had the kids make decorations and four Pinata's (which was hilarious since Guilia and I barley knew what we were doing ourselves). Then Guilia and I made a huge feast for the kids to enjoy after they played racing games in a near by field. To make a long story short: one Pinata at a time for 40 kids is NOT a good idea, but no one seemed to mind so, in the end the whole thing was a huge success and the sign turned out beautifully! After the hectic (but fun) last week was finally finished it was harder then ever to say goodbye. As a result I left in true Nepali fashion: hysterically crying with many small children sobbing, "Best of luck sister!" as my bus pulled out of Parbatipur all too soon. 

All of my host families (and all of their neighbors, friends and relatives I had the opportunity to meet along the way) were spectacular. They all took such good care of me and were so generous with anything that they were able to give. My host family in Dhulikhel was great-- I got very close to the Katri children. The family's kindness was immense. They gave me so much love and care and constantly went beyond their call of duty. A special thank you to Pashupati -- an exceptional tour guide and wonderful friend. My family in Parbatipur was also incredible. Rama was so funny and warm and her daughters, son, and niece were fabulous host relatives. They completely welcomed me into their home and were so gracious while Guilia and I destroyed their kitchen as we frantically cooked for 40 hungry kids-and their parents. By the end of my stay I truly felt that I had made two extended families in Nepal - whom I certainly will try to keep up a relationship with. 

Nepal was an unbelievable learning and life experience. I made extremely close connections with people I would have never had the opportunity to even meet. And I most certainly experienced the real Nepal thanks to INFO. Volunteering and/or staying with local host families are, I feel, the only ways to truly soak up all that Nepal has to offer and I highly recommend it. In the end I can say that my time spent in Nepal was fabulous! And it's damn hard to leave it behind; that's why I must say "Pheri Bhetaula!" -- and to prospective volunteers remember the experience is what you make it.

PS. I'd be more then happy to elaborate on my experiences or answer any questions.