AFS Global Prep Program in Nepal with a Focus in Social Services

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About

Venture into the mountains of Nepal for this impactful two-week volunteer program. From your base in the lakeside city of Pokhara, you’ll help with critical community development initiatives like renovating educational facilities or offering support to refugees from Tibet. Your daily tasks could include building tanks for drinking water or helping to improve local sanitation facilities. As you gain international volunteer experience, you’ll also get to explore Nepal’s beautiful landscape by trekking through the Himalayas. To experience vibrant city life, you and your group will visit the capital of Kathmandu and tour its tranquil temples and bustling bazaars.

Highlights
  • Make an impact by getting involved in community development initiatives
  • Help build schools or provide resources for Tibetan refugees
  • Visit Kathmandu to explore colorful markets and bazaars
  • Take in spectacular views during a four-day trek through the Himalayas
  • Experience Nepali culture and explore local temples, monasteries, and pagodas

Questions & Answers

Reviews

100%
based on 1 review
  • Impact 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 9
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Genevieve
10/10

The Best Decision I Ever Made

I want to begin by clarifying why I rated "Safety" a 9-- It was more on us as participants than the program itself. We just always seemed to leave someone at the hostel before we went somewhere (we really sucked at counting off, I guess) but never at any point during the trip did I feel unsafe.
I ultimately ended up choosing Nepal because I'd never previously considered going there. I didn't know anything about the culture and I figured the best way to learn would be to go through a program where I would be guided through and truly immersed in Nepalese culture; that's exactly what happened. I went to Nepal the summer between high school and college and I firmly believe this trip helped me adjust to college life easier than I would've had I not gone. I flew alone for the first time, I didn't get the chance to talk to my family much due to the time difference and the lack of wifi, and I gained confidence in my ability to spend my money wisely and make other important decisions. Being away from the comfort of home and making "adult" decisions are some of the biggest adjustments of your freshman year, but honestly most of the situations I was faced with during my first year of college seemed easy to me because I was constantly saying to myself, "If I can do this on the other side of the world with very little resources, I can do it at college." Going 300+ miles away for school may seem far, but after being over 7,000 miles away from home for two weeks it seemed like nothing. I came home from Nepal feeling like I could conquer the world.
As for the program itself, there was never a dull moment. My group was small and we got very close almost instantly. It was very rare that we had wifi or other luxuries we take for granted here in the US, so we connected through games and actually talking; the friendships I made in Nepal are some of the most genuine I've ever had. My love of hiking really blossomed in Nepal after we spent four days trekking through the Annapurna Mountain Range. Although it took me some time for my body to get used to the food, almost everything we had was really good. You WILL have the best milkshake of your life in Pokhara. Get the oreo milkshake, the strawberry one isn't that great. You will see some of the most beautiful sunsets and landscapes on this trip. My favorite memory from the trip is definitely when I ripped my pants at the Peace Pagoda. I'm a dancer and I take a video of me doing a toe touch every time I travel, so I got this iconic moment on video to remember forever.
I have a pretty decent list of things future participants should know, but I will try to keep it short and sweet. 1) Buy a camelback water pouch because it's easier to stay hydrated on the trek with one. 2) Bring some wipes/extra toilet paper. 3) Be careful of who you touch, especially if you're a girl. It's not normal for Nepalese men to touch women they aren't related to, even if it's just to shake hands. Some will be fine with handshakes or hugs, but it's always better to ask! On a similar note, Nepalese men hold hands all the time, whether they are partners or just friends. It's totally normal! 3) If you want good views of the mountains when on the trek, wake up SUPER early when the clouds tend to clear. 4) Bring a decent amount of money and watch how you spend it. The conversion to rupees from dollars seems like it's a great deal ($1 was about 100 rupees), but things are very expensive in rupees; I paid around 800 rupees for a pair of pants. Also, the program does provide all meals, but if you want a drink other than a water or soda with your meal you have to buy it yourself and that can add up quick (again, best milkshakes in the world). 4) Bring a good raincoat. 5) Wash your own clothes. A kid in my groups lost 90% of his clothes after we sent them off to be washed. But on the positive side, our leaders bought him clothes so he was comfortable. 6) Even if you think you have a good tolerance for spicy foods, chips chili will set your mouth on fire. They're very delicious and bearable in SMALL quantities. 7) There will be scheduled power outages throughout the day and night, so air conditioning and lights aren't always available. 8) Even though Nepal is generally hot, it get's pretty chilly in the mountains during the trek so pack a hoodie and some sweatpants. 9) Do everything you can to not walk in puddles or in the rivers during the trek-- that's where leeches thrive and they WILL make their way into your boots. 10) Check the expiration dates on any pre-packaged food you buy, especially in the Katmandu airport. 11) Bring a battery-operated alarm clock just in case your phone doesn't adjust with the time change.
You will grow and learn so much about yourself no matter what AFS Global Prep trip you choose, but I feel the Nepal program is especially beneficial because the people and culture of Nepal are unlike any that Americans tend to be familiar with. This trip is challenging mentally and physically, but by keeping an open mind and throwing yourself into the program it will be so rewarding.

How can this program be improved?
Going into a bit more detail in clarifying what is covered monetarily and discussing the prices of things would be very helpful. As mentioned above, finding out we had to pay for certain drinks was a bit of a shock, but certainly not the end of the world. I also probably would've brought a bit more money had I known how expensive things were when you paid in rupees.
Yes, I recommend this program

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AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a leader in intercultural learning and offers international exchange programs in more than 40 countries around the world through independent, nonprofit AFS...