How to Be the Best Volunteer in Nepal Ever
The best volunteers are Being, not Doing. Not long ago a volunteer posted on a blog about a conversation with the local school principal. In that conversation she asked what the principal thought about volunteers at the school. He replied that he was not sure since he'd never been outside of Nepal and couldn't know what changes would look like, what our life looked like. It's an important point.
We go to volunteer thinking we want to DO something. The people we wish to help may have no idea what we are talking about or thinking about, they have no frame of reference for understanding. It first takes building friendship and trust and that comes from Being, not from Doing.
How volunteers interact with villagers, how we speak to them, the kind of time we spend building friendships are the actions that matter most. A couple of our volunteers are now legendary in the village, not because of what they did, but because of who they were being. The time spent playing with kids, learning the language so they could say a few things to the locals, working hard and with the same tools as the locals. These ways of being ingratiated them to the community and strong bonds were made. From those bonds, doing becomes possible because there is trust. Without first Being, there is no Doing.
So when you come to Nepal and volunteer, be most mindful of who you are being, then you think about what you are doing.