Why did you pick this program?
I discovered this program through my first 5 months of volunteering with All Hands Volunteers in Project Detroit Flood Rebuild. It was during this time I was recommended by the Project Director Reuben Grandon, to apply for the Global Service Fellowship. The GSF "offers emerging leaders, a trans-formative experience in the United States and abroad rebuilding communities impacted by natural disasters, empowering volunteers to serve and challenging you to become innovators in the non-profit sector all the while enhancing All Hands Volunteers' capacity to achieve its vision."
Finally to my surprise, a ticket was booked for me to go straight to Nepal to help out.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
Personally, traveling abroad has been the most critical, mind, and eye-opening experience I've ever had. You become aware of a vast array of cultures, you step out of your comfort zone, meet new people and learn new things. Traveling abroad builds confidence, you're immersed in another language, you gain better access to infinite opportunities to network, and become aware of different teachings especially if you're studying abroad. Life is short and the Earth is full of amazing places and people. Discover all that you can.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would highly recommend learning about Nepali history and its culture. When I first arrived in Nepal I was incredibly shocked culturally and it slightly tested my confidence and comfortability. My first month in Nepal was dedicated to learning the Nepali language and culture which worked wonders for me.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
As you know, I am part of All Hands Volunteers. In late March 2016, All Hands was invited to attend an amazing conference called the Hackathon in Kathmandu, Nepal. The purpose of the Hackathon is to bring together NGOs and employees from Google to create technological solutions for NGOs to better help their causes. Attendees were All Hands, Nepal Rises, Effect.org, and Google and we all had nearly three days to pitch ideas, break up into teams, and strive towards winning the Hackathon with the best idea.
On the first day, eighteen pitches were introduced. These pitches included NGO issues dealing with staff retention, information retention, ideas for apps, the list goes on. I pitched my own idea for an app that I cannot disclose too much information for at the moment, but it's basically an app that makes it possible for all NGOs to have their own volunteer engagement app. Finally out of eighteen pitches, seven were chosen to be worked on in teams. One of those ideas weas mine.
On my team, there were four employees from Google and one app developer from Nepal. We all worked rigorously for two straight days developing a demo and mock-up for the app.
As the last day arrives, this was the time to present my idea to everyone in the Hackathon. After peer judging all seven presentations, my idea and presentation actually won the entire conference. It was an incredible experience and met some of the smartest people I've ever met. My app is still in the making from the same team from Google and Nepal and should be in testing within a year.
What about Nepal has surprised you the most?
The thing about Nepal that has surprised me the most is how happy and friendly the people are there. In a country ridden with rough politics, a fuel crisis, the struggle for clean drinking water, air pollution, and earthquakes, the people here still stand strong with an even stronger smile. All of these factors brings the Nepali people together in ways I've never experienced in the U.S. The children have the best time of their lives playing flapjack with rocks and incredible amounts of football with a ball that isn't even fully inflated. I hope to one day bring my family and siblings to Nepal so they can experience what I've had the opportunity to experience. I will forever be returning to this beautiful and wonderful country.