Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Kerzhner


Lauren is a senior in high school, she loves to travel and expand her view of the world.

Why did you choose this program?

I believe that intercultural competence is a very important tool in life. Having done a Global Routes trip before I wanted to continue to learn and to grow through experience and the Nepal trip was the perfect option. I had never been to Asia and I wanted to do something productive with my summer.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Bring lightweight warm clothing, it was such a lifesaver. There is nothing better than being warm and toasty in the cold weather. Also do no slack on the pre-trek workouts, without them, the trip will be harder than need be.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The first half of the trip began with a few days of orientation and learning about Nepal: the culture, some useful language, what to expect during our stay, etc. After that, we headed out for our almost two-week trek to Annapurna Base Camp and back.

The trek was intense but it built character and helped to bond the group. An average day would involve waking up around 6 am and getting breakfast and packing. After breakfast it was packs on and time to move. The days were 7-8 hours long and in that time we would stop for breaks, a chat, and meals.

After a day of trekking we would have some time to relax and enjoy the new campsite and have dinner then we would all be so tired that would fall asleep pretty quickly.

After the trek, we took a bus ride to Kathmandu Valley where we were assigned a homestay family. This is where our language came in handy, we were staying with a family and coming to work on the project site every day. Staying with the families of the place we were working really helped with the immersion process.

A typical day during this half of the trip involved waking up around 7 am to have a light snack with our host parents, an egg or some cookies with tea. After that my homestay sister and I would be walked to the worksite by our mother where we regrouped with the other members for breakfast. After we ate we would get to work, we would have some water breaks and work until noon for lunch.

After lunch, we had an English class set up where some members would stay up and help while others continued to work. When the day was over we would regroup for discussion about the day's progress and to talk about our highlights and our homestay.

After our meeting, my sister and I would walk back to our house and wind down and get ready for dinner. We could try to have conversations with our host mother, read, or have a shower. In my house, we had dinner together and sometimes we would have visitors come by to say hello. After dinner we would go to bed, my sister and I were usually in bed before 9 am.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

The trek was my biggest challenge. It is hard to trek when you are the tail of the group but I developed a camaraderie with the other tails and it was fun in its own way. I overcame it one step at a time.

Trekking with a group is not something you can quit or give up on, you have to keep going until the end and knowing that I finished the circuit was a great feeling.

What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?

My homestay sister was in the shower and I was admiring a picture of my homestay mother and her husband. I was pointing to it and trying to come up with a sentence that would let her know how pretty she looked in the photo. I was pointing to the picture and saying "ramro" over and over.

At the same time my mother had taken her hair out of her bun and let down her hair, it almost touched the ground. Sounding redundant I told her again how beautiful her hair was and she smiled and seemingly blushed. She picked up my hair and made a sign that looked like she was asking why my hair was so short. I tried to tell her that my mom cut it for me earlier. She replied back to me by saying "mama" and making scissors with her hands. after that we just sat there for a while smiling at each other until she got up and went to her room.

She came back with a few printouts of the same picture I had complimented earlier. She gave me a little square with her and my homestay fathers face on it. It was another silent moment but I felt like we formed a connection.