Elise, student at La Chataîgneraie, shares her impressions of her first trip to Nepal in 2016 :
Though long anticipated, our late afternoon arrival in Kathmandu was an immediate culture shock. Kathmandu is a place that is incessantly busy; the air is thick and you can constantly hear cars beeping or dogs barking. The cleanliness, order, and clean air of Switzerland offered a great contrast to our experience in Nepal. I was reminded of the privileged lifestyle I lead and how much I am sheltered.
In contrast, Kathmandu is a city that has suffered a lot. This was continually evident whether from the earthquake damage to the thick smog in the air or the lack of basic supplies. Despite all of this it is incredibly easy to love Kathmandu: the people are friendly; the building are brightly colored; prayer flags strung up between homes. Not only this but we had the luck to see it at a prime time: Holi day. This meant that we experienced an important and colorful part of Nepali culture which was shared so wholeheartedly with us.
The people at the SASS orphanage definitely left the greatest impression on me. They are incredibly welcoming and accommodating. They definitely taught me at least as much, if not more, than I taught any of the children. The children’s outlook on life and the positivity they showed was infectious and gave me a sense of perspective for my own life. They wanted you to experience their cultures and lives as well as learn about yours. I have gained a second family and people I will never forget. SASS is definitely an organisation I would love to work with again.
Though the trip was challenging and at times even testing, I wouldn’t change this. It made me more resilient as a person and I can only hope I was helpful to the Sagarmatha orphanage. I am determined that this will not be a once in a lifetime experience. A big thank you to the Sherpa family and to everyone who contributing to making this experience such a special opportunity for us.