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volunteering in nepal review

Volunteer Story: Hazleena Hashim

This feels surreal. It’s 5.30am and here I am flanked by 3 young monks in their regalia next to me at Zero Point, where you wait to get rides around here in Solukhumbu. My host family’s teenage boys are on the lookout up the single dirt road in this remote Himalayas, looking for the jeep-bus to whisk me back to Kathmandu. For as long as I could remember, I’ve always wanted to experience what it’s like to live in a village in the Himalayas with the Sherpa community. And that I did indeed, with the help of Volunteer Society Nepal. I came here, solo, as a volunteer to teach English to grade 7-10 at a local school. I got one very shy student to finally speak up and present in English in front of the class on my last day. But I came away with more life lessons than the lessons I actually imparted to my students. And that’s more than OK. Life’s like that sometimes.

It was daunting when I arrived here, two weeks ago. A solo female traveler in a foreign land and I don’t know any Nepali Bhasa, the language. So as I reflect back, this was probably one of the boldest things I’ve ever done. I stayed with a family that I’ve never met before. I walked through the Himalayan pine forests every day, mostly by myself to teach at the school, several villages over. I figured out how to be present with a bunch of people with hardly a common language, and laugh and at one time, even shed tears together. It took a few days, but that daunting feeling turned into a feeling of empowerment. I met with the principal of the school and together we figured out how best I could serve the community and the students. I sponsored two indigenous students with an annual scholarship and paid for their uniforms and books. I cried. I laughed. I reflected.
I wanted to experience what it’s like to live in a remote village in the Himalayas. I enjoyed living with the Sherpa host family, attending wedding and other religious ceremonies. I love the diversity, the different ethnicity in Nepal. People in Nepal are generally very friendly and helpful. I arrived here a stranger and I have now gained a family.
The jeep-bus has arrived. Half-hour late as Nepal runs on its own time out here. I’ve come to appreciate not having a watch living in the village. Hugging the boys, they felt like siblings to me now, and choking back tears, I realize that this is not goodbye. I will be back.
There were many beautiful moments that I’ve experienced here in Salleri, the remote Himalayan region.
Hazleena Hasheem
Colorado, USA