A month with the mountain trust was hardly sufficient. My 28 days were full of new worlds and experiences, which I couldn’t possibly have imagined sitting on the couch at home.
The first 3 weeks were spent under the guidance of Professor Iype Cherian, head of Neurosurgery at the College of Medical Sciences in Bharatpur, Nepal. I observed various neurosurgeries, standing mere centimeters from the operating table. Lectures and practical classes were another aspect of the daily schedule that I thoroughly enjoyed. I attended cardiology and pediatric classes with 5th year students, and subsequently formed friendships built to last. The students were both welcoming and hilarious, leaving no room for me to feel shy or out of place. Their free periods were willingly spent escorting me, the newbie, around the various wards, classrooms and library, accompanied with a detailed commentary on the nuts and bolts of the hospital/college hybrid. I was also lucky to witness a medical miracle firsthand; something you could only dream of reading in medical journals. It was a dense 3 weeks, brimming with information and insight to an entirely different medical world.
My remaining week was spent in Pokhara, volunteering with the Mountain Trust. Pokhara was definitely easy on the eyes, with tourist attractions at every corner, and mountain peaks lining the horizon. I met the riverside community that is currently the subject of a sanitation project with the trust. I spent a day with them and despite the language barrier; their happiness at meeting a volunteer was infectious. My remaining days were spent at Balmandir Higher Secondary School, teaching Health and English to 5th grade students. The children were just as fascinated with my background, as they were with the course material and it is definitely 4 days I will never forget. Their excitement to see their new ‘teacher’ each day was so refreshing and eradicated any anxiety I had at having their education rest on my shoulders even if only for a few days. I also supervised a session for 30 kids (whose education is funded by the mountain trust) to write letters to their sponsors. The kids were creative and thoughtful; gnawing on the tips of their pencils in determination to write the perfect sentence to their sponsors. It was endearing to watch them put their very best into their cards.
It is hard to condense the month I had in a summary, and I don't believe I have done it any justice. However, my best moments are stuck in my head permanently, and there is really no substitute, not even this highly illustrative summary, to experiencing them first hand. Plans are already percolating for a second trip.