There are already too many to count. The differences between this trip and my last trip to Nepal are vast. I suppose most of them fall under the greater category of “I have a lot more information now” which makes things both easier and harder. There is a lovely bliss that comes from being thrust into a situation which is already planned for you, when you learn along the way and make mistakes as you go. When you know nothing, less can be expected of you.
This week I am working through the details of where we will volunteer our time, what we will give, do and build, as well as what we will bring back in experience, skills and memories. Some parts of the volunteer work are exclusively mine to orchestrate. But one of the most powerful lessons I learned last time was that planning and logistics are a whole different animal in a developing country. Legalities are intricate and non-existent all at once. I am leaning heavily on my diplomatic skills in order to make headway in some places. In others I have to assess the situation, take advice, and then let some things go.
Yesterday I had a conversation where, as a journalist, I was able to ask, “Can I be present for that meeting?” It felt so powerful to even be able to ask, to know that the meeting was going to happen, and understand enough about it to want to be present. It’s an important meeting with high level leaders and it will inevitably all be in Nepali, but I want to be there to capture it nonetheless. It reminded me how much of my last trip I did completely blind. I followed along and ran my camera and took notes at every opportunity with no real grasp of the function at all. I met the Prime Minister, the Minister of Conservation and Minister of Nepal Mountaineering Association, all without really knowing how the pieces fit together. Yes, it was thrilling, and confusing and wonderful. But you can’t do that twice. Knowledge gained prohibits repeating the same steps the same way. So now I am looking at things from different angles, seeing different hurdles and running at them with a different stride.
The core of our volunteer work will be in schools. Education. It is my universal, deepest core desire, to facilitate education and foster knowledge where I can, whether in my community, my children’s schools or in a developing country. So isn’t it interesting that in having more knowledge this time, that the hurdles seem larger than before I knew. I wonder if children in the schools I will be visiting will have a similar experience.