Harry (Gap year volunteer)

Harry, aged 18, from Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, traveled to Nepal on a Raleigh International Expedition in early 2017. Harry took a gap year between his A-levels and university after missing the grades required to secure a place at his preferred university. He resat two exams after returning from volunteering and is now studying at university.

Harry, 18, from Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, went on Expedition in Nepal in 2017.

“I feel that I have taken away many things from this Expedition and I feel that I have developed as a person significantly. I wasn’t very proactive before I went on Expedition, but Raleigh has allowed me to become more decisive as I feel the only way you are able to change as a person is to initiate that change.”

Before going on his Raleigh Expedition, Harry was completing his A-level exams and was considering his next steps for the future.

“When I received my A-level results they weren’t what I was expecting so I decided I wanted to take some time out before further education, but I wanted this to be useful time spent. I feel that volunteering is one of the best things that you can do with your time. This allows you to do some good and provides the opportunity to become more educated in wider issues and life skills.”

Harry volunteered in the villages of Chapthok and Adhikari Gaun in the Gorkha region of rural Nepal.

“My team was tasked with assisting the building of earthquake resistant homes for those most in need following destruction of the 2015 earthquake. Raleigh work in partnership with local partners Goreto Gorkha and Build Up Nepal to achieve this. Working together with the local community we also provided the opportunity for community members to learn how to build their own earthquake resilient homes.

It has been a brilliant experience living in and becoming part of the community, immersing myself in the new culture and appreciating the differences. Getting to know the locals and learning about their lives and their families has been key to the experience. Working alongside the families who would receive the houses we are building together has been most rewarding, as has enjoying mealtimes with our host families.

I feel that I have been key to the process of sustainable development in these rural communities. Through volunteering I’ve felt that I am able to initiate a long-term change in the communities, as the community are able to learn and share the skills to build earthquake resilient homes after volunteers have left.”

Through his impactful project in Nepal, Harry has also developed a number of professional skills which he believes will help him in the future.

“I feel I have learnt a lot about teamwork and determination, which are key skills. It is not easy to learn practical skills like this in a classroom. I feel that the only way to gain skills like this is to do it practically in real situations through experiences like volunteering.

Venturer’s learn how to do sitreps and daily comms.

Having a language barrier has also helped me think outside of the box in terms of communication, and living in a local community has made me learn a lot about cultural differences. I feel we learnt so much from each other.

I also learnt a lot on the adventure phase. Prior to joining the Expedition I was prepared for the physical challenge of trekking, but I discovered that it was more of a mental challenge for me personally. My team and I learnt how to be supportive towards each other and I formed strong bonds with my trek team. I found that this still became a major part of my teamwork ethos for the rest of my Expedition.

I’ve learnt so much while volunteering in Nepal. I have had to problem solve a lot on placement and work with people in different cultural settings to what I am used to. It’s hard to see how these won’t be useful at university or when I’m working in the future!”

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