Our friends at Trek to Teach educate Nepali students in remote villages, while trekking through the Himalayan foothills and staying with local families, pushing the boundaries of educational limitations for rural Nepali youth. At Sherpa Adventure Gear we are happy to provide Trek to Teach volunteers with apparel and gear for their travels, knowing that access to education can change the world, and are excited to share one of their recent volunteer’s experiences with you.
Read on to hear more from Jillian, a Trek To Teach volunteer’s, experience:
I flew into Kathmandu with a small trekking backpack and a suitcase filled with school supplies. In the days prior to my flight, I laid all of my clothing out on the floor, carefully weighing the pros and cons of every extra ounce I was bringing. Every pair of pants I decided not to bring felt like a potentially life altering decision that I would have to endure for the rest of the summer. In a small Nepali village near the Himalayan region, what would I need in my life? I relentlessly wondered what I couldn’t live without.
During the first two weeks of my stay in Kimche, I felt the pressure of all the things that I had left behind weighing on me. Maybe it was my mind reaching out for the familiar. Maybe it was the shock of always being surrounded by the things I “needed” and suddenly having them disappear. Grocery stores, western toilets, working WiFi, a car: all gone and replaced by a series of trails and a bunch of squatting. I was desperate for my home comforts and technology that usually distracted me from bad days, quietly numbing my feelings until I forgot what I was upset about. Now, alone but surrounded by people, I had to reach further than the materials of my life and allow experiences to be my belongings, to be my comforts.
My discomfort initially began with teaching. The victories and failures often occur simultaneously. As I struggled to find a balance, I thought my supplies and activities would carry me through the lessons, creating a good teacher in the process. Once I forgot the materials I thought were needed to succeed with the kids, I finally connected.
The best moments come when I sit with each child, one on one, slowly going over the lesson, watching their smiles when they understand a portion of the never ending flow of gibberish that spews out of my mouth.
After one particularly hard day of teaching, I went on a run. As I ran down the road, I could see small drops of water slowly appearing on the rocks, which is Nepal’s two second warning to me that I am about to be caught in a downpour.
As the rain fell harder and I began my slow ascent up the thousand feet elevation gain required to get home, the terraced hillside became washed in peach, reflecting the newly orange sunset in the distance. The uncountable shades of green that covered the hills were magnified by a thin sheet of moisture that slowly rolled down each leaf, always finding their way to drop into the parting of my hair. The unremarkable tan color of the corn stalks was transformed into a deep gold, bringing every dark line in the leaves into full clarity. These colors remained vivid, despite the fresh fog that was rolling through the valley. It was as though a painter had run a thin layer of white paint over my vision, both blurring and accentuating the glowing landscape. I stopped feeling the rain and my exhaustion changed from tortuous to euphoric, grounding me as a part of the painting, instead of a viewer. My surroundings became my necessity.
Two months into my stay, I sometimes forgot that I own anything other than the contents of my backpack.
While eating dinner with my host family, our laughter made us fall out of our seats, every sideways glance provoking more snorts. The laughter over plates of Dal Bhat, endless card games while the monsoon rains beat against the windows, my rain-soaked crawls up the hillside, the moment when a student smiles at a well deserved high five: that’s what I need to live.