I learned a lot while I was abroad, about myself and the world. While I was there, I trekked through the foothills of the Himalayas. Before Nepal, that sounded nearly impossible. But I promise almost anyone can do it! And it's 100% a confidence booster to do something that you've never done before (like backpacking). I also taught ESL, which was daunting because I was entirely unfamiliar with Nepali. But I learned it bit by bit while I was there and discovered an immense passion for their language. This made teaching a little easier as well as everyday life a little more fun. Most importantly, I met incredible people from all over the world! Everyone goes to Nepal to trek (Europeans, Australians, Asians, etc.), and talking with other trekkers opens your eyes in a new way. I don't think there is another place in the world where you can go and meet such a unique mix of people in a single evening. Because Trek to Teach places its teachers in guest houses (hostels designed for trekkers), you can meet a variety of people and learn about their lives. So what did I learn while I was abroad? I learned that I can do "this." I can teach. I can backpack. I can navigate international airports solo. I can travel in a foreign country. I can learn a new language (it's never too late). I learned so much and gained so much confidence that I never knew I needed. I also learned about the world. I learned about political situations in smaller countries and about the developmental phases of nations worldwide. I learned about other religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) and tried new foods. I learned that Nepal strives for peace and harmony and that the Nepali people have a large capacity to love. This program taught me all of these things and more by introducing me to a new nation, and I hope to learn even more when I return. Because with Nepal, once is never enough!
How can this program be improved?
This program, by and large, seems to benefit the teacher immensely. It's a great experience for someone who is trying to live in a foreign country for a short stint or for someone who has never lived abroad before. This was perfect for me as I was trying to see if I was capable of living abroad for such a long period of time...and my unwillingness to leave at the end of three months was confirmation that I can in fact live abroad. But my heart hurts for the students who grow fond of teachers that leave after three months. These students love so well and quite frequently have to say goodbye to teachers they admire. I wish there were a better way of staying connected afterward or a better way of making a more long-term impact on the community.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would