There are too many stories to tell here. I’m particularly moved by the stories from students I’ve personally led on programs. I won’t get into specifics but I’m in awe of the commitment my students have on making sure that they use their time, energy, and resources towards creating a happier, healthier, and more just world.
They’ve taken the lessons they learn on their program and stand on that foundation for the rest of their lives. I do want to share a couple letters we’ve received from alumni sharing a little bit more about the impact of the program on their immediate and long-term future:
"It has been almost a month since I landed back in the USA. It has been almost a month since I lived an experience of a lifetime. I am writing this because I feel the need to express my joy and gratitude to all of you who make these journeys possible.
I entered this process with an unimaginable sense of anticipation...after all, I was embarking on a journey to Nepal. I expected to go and trek and live and help out people who were less fortunate than me. But, as soon as I arrived, I knew I had been so wrong. I went to give, to give to my village, a village that was supposedly "poor". But as the seconds, minutes, and days passed by, I realized that I was receiving more than I was giving, and I was fine with that.
We all came thinking we were superior to Nepal, superior to the true, simple life. And we were awakened from this fantasy we all held in our heads. Nepal became our second home, at least it became that to me. And even though, it has been almost a month since my feet were standing on that land, every time I look at pictures and every time I speak with my Nepalese family, I feel at home and I feel happy. I feel happy because I was able to learn simplicity and compassion. In reality, words cannot begin to describe my experience in Nepal.
I will never forget those long days walking the Langtang trail, shadowed by the immense Himalayan snow peaks, or that first night in Thanching when I ate dinner with my family. I know I have a second home now and I promised myself and my Nepalese brothers, that I would one day come back. That day that we left the village, I remember my Grandma fixing my shirt sleeve and just starting to cry.
We actually spoke since I spoke English and she spoke only Nepali. We had chucked corn together, we had laughed together at nothing, yet at the same time, we were laughing at everything. She cried and I cried, and I realized what this all meant. It's not about the amount of money in your wallet, but about the amount of love in your heart. A truly happy person is not the one who has the most, but the one who is happy with the least.
In Nepal, all our layers fell apart. We were one with nature and we were one with ourselves. We smelled, we looked dirty, we sweated, but every single day, we went to sleep with a smile. And then, the next day, I would wait for my brother's "Dai morning" (brother morning) to wake up, stand, see what surrounded me, smile and live another day. So, thank you for presenting this chance to me and to everyone to come!"
-GR Nepal Student
"I learned to listen to myself and the world around me through investing myself in every moment of the day, asking real, deep questions to people, and listening to their responses, making an effort to fit words to my experiences and investigating why.
All of that has contributed to a better self-understanding, and that will help me through everything I’ve wanted in my life -- knowing more about what I want to do, trusting my own judgment more, understanding my feelings for the people I love, and really being invested in my day-to-day goings on."