As my farewell creeps ever closer, quickly becoming a reality that I am not eager to accept, I feel the need to share some of the many many things I have learned during the most incredible but challenging 2 months of my life. Life in the wonderful village of Kimche, Nepal has been that of constant new experiences and steep learning curves.
Most obviously: lower your expectations (probably don’t have any expectations at all). Try all of the different foods. Always say yes to tea, especially if one of your students asks you because then you will go to their house and they will look at your pictures on your phone and they will see your picture of the mountain of popcorn you had gotten at Tadapani (a near by village) the week before and they will insist on making you popcorn and you will all sit together eating popcorn and watching animal planet on their old box tv and it wills be like going home.
Learn to step in animal poop like it’s dirt. Try all the snacks the kids offer you at school, and they will learn what your favorite is (popcorn obviously) and will bring that more than anything else and insist you take several handfuls – it will warm your heart. You aren’t actually in good shape, which is exposed when you climb 7,000 steps on the second day of trekking. But it’s actually worth every single step for the view you get the next morning.
You think you’ve seen mountains before?? You haven’t. You can always eat more rice. Always. ALWAYS. Squat toilets actually make pooping easier. The best omen for the day is when you nail the sugar to tea to water ratio in the morning. If there is a bus coming down the road you better move because that thing doesn’t slow down for anything and you will loose that battle. If you have the weekend off and get to go to Pokhara and end up in the supermarket, BUY THE FREAKING PEANUT BUTTER, or you will regret later when you stumble upon some Oreos while you are hiking. There is no such thing as a routine, embrace it, go with the flow, and you will have experiences that you never dreamed of. If you want to taste the best pancake in the world you should go to Kimche Guest House, and to be honest you haven’t really lived until you’ve tried that pancake. Explore and walk every where you can in this beautiful valley we all call home because the paths are all so different and beautiful and the people walking them have the best stories. I’m 99 percent sure that the coconut cookies have crack in them that is enhanced when you dunk them in tea (but don’t leave them in the tea for too long or they will fall out of your hands on to your shoes and it will look exactly like you just puked all over your shoes). The people here are the most beautiful, kind-hearted, caring, open people I have ever met, always eager to share and laugh and dance and they will make you smile more than you have ever smiled before. If you happen to end up dancing at a local festival for a volleyball tournament the second day you are in your village be prepared to be asked to dance by the kids about 10 times each class period. When in doubt, if the kids are going nuts, play hangman or do the hokey pokey. Even if you are exhausted and homesick, always go to the town dance party or volleyball tournament because your students will be there and will immediately take you hand and lead you somewhere to sit and they will sit with you the whole time and you will forget that you were ever tired or homesick.
There is no such thing as taking too many pictures. Hold the kids hands and hold them tightly and don’t let go no matter how sweaty your hands get because they are showing you a capacity for love that you will never experience anywhere else.
But above all, I have learned the value of laughter. It is a universal language. If two people are laughing, it doesn’t matter what language they are speaking, communication is happening and a connection is made. I can’t tell you how many laughs I shared with my bhauju (essentially my mom while I am here) at her mischievous, energy-filled 3 year old son, and that laughter made up for all the talking we couldn’t do. At school, if the kids are laughing, they are learning. Always.
So make a fool of yourself, get them to make fools of themselves, and they will remember whatever you are teaching them. And their smiles and laughter will become the best part of your day, bringing you more joy than you ever thought existed in the world and growing your capacity to love more than you ever thought possible.
Of everything that I will miss, I will miss laughing with these wonderful kids as we put “your tongue in, put your tongue out, put your tongue in, and you shake it all about” or when we play SPID for the 5 ba-gillionth time. That laughter and those smiles give me a feeling that is indescribable and one I will never forget
Thank you to Trek to Teach, and all the wonderful people involved, this experience has been like no other I have ever and will ever experience. These kids and the schools they go to are better because of this of all the work that goes into this wonderful program.