I’m sitting here, in my apartment in Tel Aviv, thinking back on the past two months…
Three months ago, I was stressing about finals and graduation from college. That now seems like a lifetime ago. Since June 14th, when I flew to Kathmandu, I’ve seen and experienced things that I would have never expected. I joined the All Hands family, and made some lifelong friends from all over the world. I’ve helped families unable to help themselves, built schools and shelters, and improved others. I took photos, updated a blog, and started raising money for an organization that I trust wholeheartedly.
So first of all, thank you All Hands for the amazing experience. I’ll be back.
I’m sure that a lot of how I feel is going to wear off in a couple days- I still have the urge to throw my toilet paper in the garbage, to wake up super early, and to not wash my hands with soap and water because that’ll just get them dirtier. I have a nagging fear that the power will die out at any moment, and it’s hard to trust that the food here is already clean without excessive amounts of cleaning. There’s always a period of time when travelling where you need to get used to the way of life, but I find that the shock factor is usually larger coming back from low income countries that going to them.
In the past year, I’ve travelled to Guatemala and then Nepal, two very poor countries where to me, the people seem happier than anywhere else I’ve been. Sure, they don’t have high paying jobs and fancy houses. Their concept of time is less that it defines where we are, when, and instead is just a background factor in their life. They aren’t rushing from place to place, but enjoying their time where they are, when they are. On my flight from Kathmandu to Istanbul yesterday, I watched Boyhood, the story of a boy growing up. At the end of the movie, he’s sitting with a girl in the desert, and she says “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.” And that really resonated with me, in light of my past few weeks. We get wrapped up in moving our lives forwards instead of enjoying the moments that matter most.
I have so much to say here, but I’m going to try and keep it short-ish because otherwise I’m going to go on for ages.
The people at All Hands were fantastic. I miss them already, though I have several conversations with them going on Facebook as I try and write this final post. They opened my eyes to a new kind of person; I met so many people who live their life almost entirely on the road. They work for 6 months, then travel for 18. They volunteer, they trek, they do whatever they want. I’ve had life plans for the past 10 years. These people never stay in one place for long. It’s not a lifestyle I see myself having, but I didn’t even realize that there were people who travel for so long. This was my longest trip ever away from “home,” almost two months. I met people who have been travelling for 6 months, a year, two years! Some of them don’t even really have a home! It’s amazing to see the variety in people. And though we were from all over the world, all ages, we all got along great. If you asked me who my 10 closest friends were, I wouldn’t tell you. But I would tell you they were the most diverse group of people, including those from the US, UK (England, Scotland, Ireland), France, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, India, and many other places as well.
The work was even better than the people (sorry, people). When I saw the school collapse in Pokhara, I was sure I wanted to return home. But as time slowly passed, I started to want to remain for longer, so that’s what I decided to do. I threw myself into the work, shoveling like my life depended on it, wheelbarrowing load after load to the dump site, and so on. There’s something amazing about watching a site transform from a pile of rubble to an open area with different materials neatly sorted on the side. And more than the transformation of the site, it’s amazing to see the transformation of the beneficiary, from sad and helpless to so happy and hopeful for their future for the first time in months. All Hands goes where the help is minimal, and it can be transformative for an entire community to see a group of westerners come to a beneficiaries house and clean up the rubble. I’m looking forwards to the job hunt but I doubt any work will be as rewarding and the work I did in Nepal.
When I first arrived in Nepal, someone asked me what I studied, and after I told them Community Health and Economics, they said that I would find Nepal incredibly interesting in both regards. And I did. The lack of sanitation in the IDP camps drove me crazy. The way people spend their money was infuriating. The lack of good paved roads and $1 packs of cigarettes made me question where the country was going. There is, to say the least, a lot to “fix” in Nepal to bring it up to the standard of living that we are used to in the west. But as I said in the beginning, the people there were so nice and happy, that I don’t even know if most interventions I was thinking of would be morally sound.
Lastly, thank you to all of you. I had more than 2,500 page views on my blog, and though I’m not sure how that number is tabulated, it’s WAY more than I expected. Knowing there were so many people reading my posts was more than enough to make me look forwards to writing a new post every day. Thank you for liking my pictures on Facebook, and sending me messages whenever you pleased, with questions, words of support, and comments. Thank you for donating to my fundraising page, and thank you for anything else that you may have done. It was an amazing trip, but your virtual company made it all the better. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
What’s next for me? Israel for the next three days. Then back to Boston, then a weekend in NYC, then back to Boston, then a weekend in upstate NY with my sister visiting my Nana, then back to Boston. And starting now, the Job Hunt is back in business. Who know’s where I’ll be in a month, a year, and beyond.
Woo Hoo, wish me luck!
That’s it from me. This short chapter of my life, and this blog, are officially finished. And though I will remember it for a long time, it is time to move onwards.
The rest of my blog, where you can read the rest of my posts: 60daysinnepal.blogspot.com
My fundraising page (almost halfway to my goal, please donate!): https://give.hands.org/fundraise?fcid=477419
Photo Credit to Cédric Bosquet