Alumni Spotlight: Alessandra Piersanti


Alessandra Piersanti is from Rome, Italy. She is in her third year at the School of Medicine and she enjoys travelling, meeting people from different countries, reading and swimming. She enrolled in a three weeks medical program in Kathmandu from end of July to mid of August 2012.

Highlights: Our host families were both very welcoming. We became part of the family, experiencing the Nepali way of life, such as eating with our hands, that we would never have experience as tourists (tourists are always provided with cutlery). When a cousin of our host family was married, we were invited to the wedding.

The Insight Nepal program included a week of Nepali lessons and orientation, a week of trekking in the Annapurna mountains near Pokhara, a visit to Chitwan National Park, and eight weeks placement at a school in Pokhara. For our week of orientation, we stayed with a local family, and then moved to the home of one of the teachers at our school, for the placement period.

Although the program provided us with room and board for the entire period of our placement, we chose to spend a day or so each weekend in the tourist part of Pokhara (Lakeside), which gave us both a “tourist” experience as well as the volunteer experience.

Morning: As a volunteer in a medical program I used to stay at the hospital from 7 a.m to 3 p.m. There, I mainly shadowed doctors during their rounds and helped nurses in their routines. I had the opportunity to learn about checking vitals, wound dressing, gastric intubation, urinary catheterisation, tube feeding as well as cannulas insertion and blood drawing. I also observed to some orthopedic surgeries and I gained a more deeper understanding on how an intensive care unit works.

Afternoon: In the afternoon and at the weekends, if we didn't spend time with the kids at the orphanage, playing or helping them with their homework, my fellow volunteers and I profited by exploring Kathmandu and the surroundings. Among the others, we did a very adventurous elephant safari at Chitwan National Park and we had an enchanting awakening on the Himalayas in Sagarkhot.

Evening: Evenings at the orphanage were very funny: we used to have dinner all together around 8 p.m and since there were volunteers from many countries enrolled in different programs, it was an opportunity to exchange our personal daily experiences. After dinner sometimes we were playing cards, talking, spending time with kids or going out for a drink.

Highlights: It has been a really wonderful experience I highly recommend. it offered me the possibility to adapt to completely new environments and I've learnt once more how important is to be flexible. I was able to volunteer in an Intensive Care Unit and it was a very rewarding and moving experience: most of the nurses and the doctors were very friendly and always keen to explain about patients diseases and procedures, involving you in their duties as well as eager in sharing their culture.

Our placement was in an orphanage: kids were great and it has been a very eye-opening and at the same time, a really funny experience. Moreover Nepal is a beautiful and safe country, with dozens of majestic old temples and a stunning wildlife. Despite the pervasive poverty, Nepali people are very friendly and welcoming; I've met many fantastic people, locals and other volunteers and i took away memories I'll never forget.