Alumni Spotlight: Gaia Langella


Why did you choose this program?

After I finished high school, I was given the possibility to chose a trip among many destinations worldwide, paid thanks to a scholarship. I had always wanted to volunteer abroad and that sounded like the perfect chance. I love children and playing with them, so I chose a childcare program in Pokhara, Nepal, because it matched perfectly my desire to travel around the world, above all in Asia, which I find incredibly fascinating.

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

Both GVI and WEP have been perfect in providing help and information both before the departure and in loco. I had supervisors ready to answer every single question of mine about all the aspects of the journey. I was given advice about the flights to buy, accommodation for my days not on project, means of transport and everything I needed.

During the project, I was given the chance to challenge myself planning some activities to do with the kids on my own, and discuss them with the staff members. They were the most welcoming and understanding project-mates I could have ever asked for.

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

I would recommend making sure to bring everything necessary for the journey, but above all, to bring curiosity and an open mind. Volunteering abroad is definitely out of our comfort zone, and that's the magical thing. In the beginning, it may be difficult to adapt to a new routine, very different from the one we are used to. But after a while, you start feeling at home and days go so fast that your only regret is not to have planned to stay longer.

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

I used to teach in two different schools: the one in Pame and the one in Hemja. They are 30 minutes far from Pokhara in opposite directions.

We used to leave by bus after breakfast and, through a beautiful route by lake Phewa, we reached the school. Among the activities that we used to do with the kids, there were reading books and singing songs (which they actually loved).

Every day we showed up with a new activity for kindergarten and grade one. Then we used to have lunch and some sports time in the yard. After another afternoon activity, we used to go back to the homestay and plan some activities for the following days.

During the evenings and the weekends, we used to organize activities among volunteers (we also went paragliding!).

Two weeks really fly too fast.

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

I was scared of going that far from home completely alone, knowing no one, as a young European girl. My fears revealed to be completely useless since I got to know really lovely people, willing to be helpful and talk to foreigners.

Nepali people are the most welcoming and smiling human beings on earth, and there's really nothing to worry about in asking them if you need advice or got lost in Durbar square.

If you could do this trip again, what would you change?

If I had the chance to go back, I would plan to stay longer (one month or two). It would be perfect to have the possibility to extend the stay once you are already there. One of my favorite moments was when I heard about many stories about Indu tradition and religion from a local staff member who was on a project with me. My curiosity made me ask further and further information about that beautiful culture, and I enjoyed those moments of sharing very much.