Alumni Spotlight: Josh Atkinson

Josh is getting his Bachelors in Public Health. He is an avid world traveler.

Why did you choose this program?

I had a great friend who was going to go on trips with them. He told me their mission and I wanted to go as well. I lived in Mexico for two years and had seen the poverty and literacy level there. I wanted to make a difference. I went to Mexico first. I loved it so much I then went on the Nepal trip!

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The organization does all the setup. While you pay to go and pay for airfare. From the time you get to the airport till your back again, it is all planned and set up. Room and board, excursions, and activities were all set up.

The prices were extremely fair and cheap. The costs go directly to building the library. Expect to bring your own clothes.

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

Village book builders is a cultural immersion trip. You spend the week in the village serving them and letting them serve you. It can be a bit of a culture shock and adjustment to the food. They will often not eat things we are used to. It can’t be a bit of a shocker. Bathrooms can be different. In Nepal, we slept on wooden beds. So it is different than what you might be used to.

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

The days are packed with fun and service. There are a few excursion days where you go to adventure spots, but the vast majority of the week is spent either teaching classes to the children, building the library (this is mostly painting the inside and organizing books and laptops) or visiting the villagers in their homes.

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

It can be really scary not knowing if someone might rob you. At least that’s what I thought. I’ll look like a tall white tourist. I was scared of that. Once in Nepal, I realized how kind EVERYONE was! My wife lost her wallet and some random person chased her down a whole block to give it to her. They believe in karma and live by it! It’s amazing!

What is the biggest benefit of the trip?

Spending time with the village, we were welcomed in and it felt like family. At the end of the week, the village did a celebration of the library local and national leaders came to thank us for our help. We opened the library and to see children and adults alike so happy to be there it was all worth it!

This is a special organization that really helps the community and helps you feel a sense of accomplishment!