Alumni Spotlight: Seth Alwin


Seth Alwin resides in Wausau, Wisconsin where he works as a bike shop manager. Currently in training mode, Seth plans to run eleven different triathlon races this summer including Ironman Wisconsin, and later this fall will return to Nepal to begin a year long volunteer trip he hopes will take him throughout Southeast Asia and South America. He enjoys taking a picture or two with his trusty camera and is currently sporting a pretty awesome beard.

Highlights: Experiencing another culture beyond the tourist trail was the best part of my trip. It's easy to hang around the other travelers in town when on the road, and talk about familiar things back home. Living with a local group or family, often not seeing an outsider for days, and getting to know the neighbors and their ways of life - that was the invaluable experience I don't think I could have gotten on a regular sightseeing trip. Within a week or so, you begin to learn the routines. By the end of your stay, it's just like old hat. Learning local norms, seeing how families interact, and watching first hand how communities work in third world countries was extremely fascinating. And realizing you don't need a cell phone, internet, car, or even TV at all times to be content and happy was certainly refreshing.

Morning: Most mornings, I would wake up around 7:00am and help the children get ready for school. Since volunteers didn't eat with the children, we'd usually sit on the front steps of the orphanage and chat while the kids finished breakfast. Goma, the housekeeper, would usually bring us tea while we sat and soaked up the warm sun. After the children had finished eating, we would usually eat a simple breakfast of white rice and a vegetable. Since there were many shops within walking distance, we could buy snacks to hold us over throughout the day until dinner time. After breakfast, the volunteers would walk the children to school and return back the orphanage.

Afternoon: Weekdays were usually spent wandering around the small town the orphanage was in, reading, or helping the housekeeper with small chores around the house. It's quiet most of the day, so it's a great time to relax and get away from busy lives we often live back home. On the weekends, I'd spend time with the children playing outdoor games like soccer or fort building as well as indoor activities like cards, reading, etc. Somedays the overall mood of the house was very happy and everyone laughed a lot. Other days were longer with spirits low, just like all other households around the world. Since they only ate twice per day, I'd usually close the door to my room and grab a quick snack around noon to hold me until dinner.

Evening: By 4:00pm, the children would return from school and immediately start working on their homework for the evening. I usually offered help to those I knew were struggling in school, and by 5:30 they were done and sitting down to dinner. Afterwards, the volunteers ate and by 7:00 the boys were sitting down to watch a movie or play outside in the remaining sunlight. Bedtime was around 8:30, and since the days were often lazy days with the children off at school, the volunteers would often be in their rooms by 9:00 or so to settle in. There were a few nights I took the boys up to the roof to search for constellations and tell them stories about astrology. They had never heard them before and loved it.