Up until now I’ve had a tendency to speak about what it is I am doing. Well, kids, I’m not doing it all alone. I present you with, the people I’ve met, or at least a deep and well-construed reflection on surrounding oneself with the company of others while in a foreign country…
I knew one of my fellow volunteers before I arrived and that was about it. At that point we hadn’t even known eachother too well. Naturally, most if not all people who decide to take this sort of leap of faith and immerse themselves for a summer into the Nepalese culture must be interesting and must have their own interesting story. Just in the same way as everyone else on the planet, but still one must wonder: why is this person spending their summer in the third world? This question and answers pulled from this question are enough to build bonds.
Sometimes you have to wonder, especially as a gal who always seemed to be the cliche of a square peg, how do I work well with others if I can’t seem to figure my own self out half of the time? Fitting in or meshing is something I try not to hold my own abilities up against. Just bein’ Leah tends to work, well, as well as it can. And if it doesn’t work, and the meshing or fitting in was the only way to go, then you know how the old proverbial saying goes, it wasn’t mean to be. And I have had many “It wasn’t meant to be’s.”
(Shoutout) Last year when I went to Poland for a service experience doing conservational work in the concentration camps, though I was with a very small group, I came out with friendships–one in particular. Isn’t it interesting that I would get to know a person for only 10 days and then stay in contact with her quite often for the next year, and even still I consider her to be one of my closest confidants? There have been some relationships I worked at for years and years and it didn’t seem quite as right as one like this. There truly is something about sharing the company of a person when one chooses this sort of experience, an immersion. You could have more in common in the first minute of meeting one another than with someone you’ve been faking it with for years.
First coming to Nepal was like Kindergarden. The fear of the experience itself equaled out exactly to the fear of making friends throughout the experience. Sounds like Kindergarden doesn’t it? The important part of Kindergarden isn’t making macaroni necklaces, per say, it is the strength and solace found it knowing that you will have a buddy who will purposefully get in trouble for shoving a piece of macaroni up their nose just to make sure you don’t spend your time-out alone while everyone else makes macaroni necklaces.
While I realize many blog readers want to hear more about me bargaining in the markets or my plans to go paragliding in Pokhara, this is what you’re getting for today, because honestly whether you’ve traveled a ton, very little, or not at all, the company–those you’re with and those you meet–can impact you more than anything else. For instance, If it wasn’t for one of my friends here, I would not have gotten up on stage and tribal danced with the Tharu dancers in Chitwan last weekend. But seriously, there’s no way I would’ve done it. I’ve also had friends convince me to buy things–which, who doesn’t need that in their lives.
I feel as though I have so much more to learn from my fellow volunteers and friends. Sometimes, we just snuggle, sometimes we talk, we even work out, which is sometimes productive and sometimes just messy–at least when it goes unguided. We talk about uneventful and eventful days at work, we talk about food we miss back home (sometimes to no avail), we talk about our futures (boy, do we talk about our futures), but mostly, even if we won’t admit it, we really do enjoy our time here…together.
Yesterday at work for the first time I began to feel the most in-touch I’ve been with the Nepalis here. I have met one girl who I plan on visiting soon. She had a very inspiring story; she even wanted to go to New York City one day to pursue fashion design. Yesterday, though, I talked to the Nepali volunteers who are about my age in the office. I had a really great conversation with one–comparing our cultures, how we live on our own after age 18 and they never really do, arranged marriages, the school system. We even planned a time for her to take me shopping to get a traditional Nepali outfit, comprised of a short sleeved tunic with tighter pants on the bottom and a scarf with colors to match…I think it’s called a corta (?) There’s a special feeling one gets when forming a connection with someone who really is of another world, in many ways.
I can’t really explain it, but just now that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something. And know that if you meet them in Nepal, their story is one you probably one you want to hear. The ones that are most dissimilar from your own tend to be that way.