“If you are willing to change your actions and your way of thinking, you will be amazed at how much you can learn from the local people”

5th December 2018

Raleigh's work is delivered though teams of volunteers, who give the programme its energy, inspiration and bring a whole lot of fun. To celebrate International Volunteer Day, two of our Expedition volunteers have written about their time volunteering in Nepal. Anna-Maria is an international volunteer from Edinburgh, in the UK, and Sudhir is a host country volunteer from Bhaktapur, Nepal.

[Photo: Volunteers Anna-Maria (right) and Alisa (left) celebrating Dashain, one of the biggest festivals in Nepal]

Anna-Maria

““Turn up the music, Sudhir!” Sudhir stands centre stage, while all of our community group smile, twisting our arms and bodies in an attempt to match the natural rhythm of dance that runs in the bodies of the Nepali people. Communication with both the Nepali volunteers and the local people we met along the way was challenging at times. My attempt at speaking simple Nepali was often met with looks of confusion, but it seemed like no matter what happened, or how embarrassed I felt, the Nepalese people would comfort me with a big smile of gratitude for trying to communicate with them.

One of the Nepali communities Raleigh has been working in this year

It also became clear that strong friendships would be formed between the international and Nepali volunteers. 

Sudhir has become my good friend, and has acted as a bridge of communication between the volunteers and the Nepali people. He has often translated for me and helped me to understand the traditions and actions of the Nepali people. The ease with which he spoke to complete strangers made me feel much more comfortable in times when I felt out of my comfort zone. Our friendship has proven just how rewarding it is to be immersed in the culture.

To anyone thinking of travelling across the world to a place far away: arrive open minded. If you are willing to change your actions and your way of thinking, you will be amazed at how much you can learn from the local people. I’ve realised that time here moves so fast, so embrace every part of the culture and get excited about life!”

Sudhir

“I joined the Raleigh expedition programme on my gap year as I wanted to do something useful, and I wanted to work on my personal development. For me, starting Raleigh was unnerving, as I realised that I was in a completely new situation with a new bunch of people. I didn’t know anybody in the team, and so it helped that everyone was in the same situation. It was the start of something new for everyone.

Understanding the cultural differences between me and the international volunteers was a pretty unique experience. When I asked my team why they chose to volunteer in Nepal, they seemed to be fascinated by the Himalayas and the mountain ranges. I was surprised to know that the tallest mountain in the UK is less than 14 hundred metres above sea level, which is lower than my hometown of Bhaktapur.

It was quite an experience to meet different people from all around the world and to know different cultures and views towards things as well as getting to know them on a personal level. I made an effort to help the international volunteers learn more about Nepalese culture, and shared a lot of my knowledge with them, which I really enjoyed.

I am thankful to each and every one in my team for being such a nice group of people and helping me grow my confidence. It was a pleasure sharing this experience with them, and I was lucky to learn so much at the same time.”

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