BY DARIAN FINLEY-GARCIA
Darian experienced the Trek to Teach program from September-December of 2014. He currently works with youth and families in Portland, Oregon, helping to provide community and mental health services.
“The world is round and continues to spin. Because it is a circle with no ending, we are bound to see each other again.” This little adage was shared with me by my host brother on my last day teaching in Nepal and it has been engraved in my brain ever since. But then again, Nepal had a way of doing that: taking seemingly simple concepts and turning them into robust beautiful life lessons.
By Brooke AMEN
Brooke was a Trek to Teacher in 2018 in the small village of Tolka, Nepal. She continues to share the beauty of the Himalayas and the Nepali people while managing the Trek to Teach Instagram page.
“What are you running from?” Out of context, it sounds like a line out of a cheesy rom-com or a horror movie. Add the image of an American girl going for a jog through a small village in the Himalayas and it begins to make sense. I never thought that working out could qualify as a cultural exchange, but I quickly learned that burning calories intentionally was not a part of the norm in Tolka, Nepal.
When I traveled to Nepal, I knew I was going to be living a very different lifestyle than the one that I had come to love at home in the USA. I usually spent most of my free time in Wyoming fly fishing and skiing obsessively. Turns out, there isn’t a ski lift or fly shop to be found in the Annapurna region, so I had to make some adjustments. I had to figure out what I loved so much about the hobbies I was obsessed with and discover how to reap the same benefits in a very different environment. I found that I primarily loved fly fishing for the peace of mind that it gave me and skiing for the muscle-building and cardiovascular health that it provided. These hobbies quickly translated into journaling and running/hiking.
By Laura Shaw
Laura is a former high school teacher and coach from Canada who went to Nepal with Trek to Teach in 2019 and now volunteers with the organization to train future teachers.
In Nepal, volleyball is much more than just a game; it's a community and a way of life. As you trek through the rural villages of the Annapurna Region in Nepal, you would be hard pressed not to come across a makeshift volleyball court or two somewhere along the way. Most of these courts have lines hand carved with a stick and the nets are often tangled messes of string, supported by wood posts hammered into the uneven ground. Some courts barely fit on the terraced fields, but are clearly spaces dedicated to the game. They might not look like much, yet with the backdrop of the Himalayas, these courts suggest there’s a lot more than just a game played here.
By: Laura Shaw
As contradictory as it may sound, I felt as though I knew what I was getting myself into coming to Nepal, yet had no idea what to expect. I was confident I had sufficiently prepared myself mentally and physically for my time here: to trek my way through the mountains, be living in relative isolation, and have limited access to resources. However, you never really know how prepared you are until you arrive. One thing I could not have predicted was how different each of the four teachers' experiences would be while in our villages. The four of us (Andrew, Zoe, Katie and myself) had met in Kathmandu, spent the week together for orientation then trekked together for four days to our villages. After a group hug in the garden of the Trekker's Inn Guesthouse in Ghandruk, we parted ways and settled into our villages. In Ghandruk, Katie has experienced an ever changing and revolving door of trekkers, guides, and porters every night and at times has even helped serve dal bhat. In Tolka, Andrew was welcomed like a brother by the staff at a lively guesthouse and but is further removed from the rest of us being on the other side of the valley. In Kliyu, Zoe has been adopted as "my daughter" to her host family at a quiet guesthouse, but has her fill of excitement during busy days at school. And here, in Kimche, my life is significantly different than all the rest, but in all the ways I could have hoped for.
By: Katie Moon
Before coming to Nepal I had mentally prepared myself as best as possible for the journey I was about to embark on. From teaching for the first time, leaving for my first major international trip by myself, and living with a new family in a new and much different culture than what I had been accustomed to. To get the most out of my experience, and be able to provide the best learning opportunity for my students, I knew that flexibility would be an important trait to possess. Until arriving in Nepal, and more specifically my village of Ghandruk, I never knew just how important flexibility would be.
Some of the best experiences that I have had thus far have come as a result of going with the flow. I have been able to engage with the rich Gurung and Nepali culture that lives here in my village as well as form great bonds with my didi’s (big sisters) and dai’s (big brothers), fellow teachers, and community members. Whether it be blindly following my dai through the village at a moments notice when he says “kanchi, jam jam” which results in hand plowing the field and planting garlic with my didi’s all afternoon, or having to abandon lesson plans and resort to playing games outside because that is the only way the third graders will absorb any English that day. Didi will also frequently say “you, me, dance tonight” and an hour later we end up at a “culture program” (community dance night with Nepali music) a few houses away. Since Ghandruk is a bigger village, and my guest house accommodates many, I have try to help out my family when it gets busy. This means that I help serve dal bhat to 40 Nepali high school students who have come to visit Ghandruk on an overnight school excursion. And because the power frequently goes out here, sometimes we serve said dal bhat in the dark, via headlamps.