August 1, 2022, by Rebekah
Global Placement Grant – Social development Volunteer for Travelteer in Nepal
by Sophie James, Politics and International Relations student
I had the opportunity to travel to Nepal and participate in work experience with Travelteer alongside SAHAS, a Nepalese non-profit, non-governmental social development organisation. My role involved working at schools in the vulnerable and socially excluded areas around the city of Pokhara, improving the accessibility to nutrition for the students by introducing sustainable agriculture with a range of different plantations on site at the schools. We were also able to carry out some maintenance work at the schools, including building stairs to improve the safety and accessibility for the children and also painting some classrooms and providing learning resources on the walls.
I found my work experience highly rewarding. It felt overwhelming at times as it was such an amazing culture to be able to immerse myself in, and the people were incredibly kind, often the teachers at the schools would be more than keen to help us with our work and bring us lots of tea! Having the opportunity to live like a local felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it really helped me to improve my adaptability skills.
The part I enjoyed the most was being able to adapt to the Nepalese lifestyle, despite being a challenge at first, I felt by the end I had learnt so much. From the cooking to the culture itself, it was a whole new world to me but the people were kind and patient, being so happy to be able to share their life with me.
The biggest challenge I found was teaching English lessons to the children at the schools. It was something I felt I had not prepared for because I did not have any sort of teaching experience. Although I felt I’d be ‘thrown in the deep end’, I was able to work with the other volunteers and create lesson plans which were really successful, and being able to see that the children had learnt something by the end of each week was hugely rewarding.
I could not recommend taking part in work experience like this enough. For anyone considering doing something similar I would suggest looking into what university funding is available e.g., the Global Placement Grant, not only does the grant make the prospect of work experience more accessible, but also the team are really supportive during the process. During your time there, I would recommend taking some home comfort snacks with you (ideally ones that won’t melt e.g., cereal bars!), and to not to put too much pressure on yourself. The work experience is exactly that, experience, so don’t expect to find the solutions right away, listening and working with the people around will give you so much more from the experience than trying to figure things out on your own.
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