Volunteer Name: MacKenzie Wattenbarger
Project Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
Volunteered at: PreMed/PreNurse/PreDental
1- How were the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The support via the sisters running the volunteer house was fantastic. They are fun to be around and although their English isn't perfect I was able to understand them after a few days. I was sick for five days in the middle of my trip, which really bummed me out and drastically lowered the number of hours I was able to log. During this time the sisters were constantly checking up on me and when I really wasn't doing well they took me to the traveling hospital.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
My most surprising experience was making Nepali friends and visiting their house. I lost my wallet in the first week, but it was returned a day later with everything still in it. The girl who found it was my age and insisted on a few of the volunteers coming over for lunch. One of the next day's was a festival so two other volunteers and I headed to her house for lunch. It surprised us all that the family has us eat first while they watched, feeding your guests first is a sign of hospitality.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
One of the most difficult aspects of the trip was transportation. At the beginning, I was very nervous about catching buses, knowing where to get off, how much to pay, etc. By the end, I was recognizing landmarks, confident enough to take the bus by myself during the day, and willing to explore the city with others.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
I would recommend bringing a spare pair of clothes in your carry on if flying through Dubai, for most volunteers coming that way the luggage doesn't show up with your flight. Also, with food, if there are things you like, such as peanut butter, don't be afraid to bring it with you, even though they had similar items at the superstore, they were not the same brands and tasted off. As a side note, when I was sick I really wanted macaroni, which isn't something available in Nepal but would have been a very easy thing to pack and make there. Volunteer for at least three weeks. This gives you some time to travel and go to other locations without feeling like you are missing out on your placement.
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
You are allowed to haggle for prices most anywhere you go. Being a foreigner makes you a target for beggars, shopkeepers, and taxi drivers alike.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
Traveling to Nepal was one of the best choices I have made. While the trip challenged me in many ways, I grew to be more self-sufficient and confident in my abilities. Being sick for an extended time really upset me, but the sisters in the house tried to make my time as easy as possible. The hospital was an interesting experience that opened my eyes to how different medicine looks around the world.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
The volunteer house was very safe and comfortable. The meals were very good, usually with Nepali food at dinner and more western foods for breakfast.
8- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
My favorite memory is hiking up Shivapuri national park to the peak. I was with a good of Asia other volunteers and we just had such great fun finding our way there and hiking for hours upon hours. As one other volunteer put it, " the suffering is what brought us closer together".
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Prior to traveling I received an orientation packet and uploaded flight and personal information.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes, I am willing to talk to other potential volunteers.