Dos & Don’ts for Volunteering in Nepal
When considering volunteering, Nepal may be a destination that catches your eye due to its unique culture, stunning scenery, and demonstrated need for volunteers. However, volunteering in Nepal requires a special individual with a clear sense of purpose. If you’re ready to wake up to temple chanting, enjoy dal baht and MoMos, and witness snow-capped mountains outside your window, it’s time to begin your journey. As you research and choose a Nepal volunteer project, keep in mind these seven DON’Ts and seven DOs to ensure a fulfilling experience.
A list of actions to avoid while volunteering in Nepal.
- Ensure that the focus is not solely on yourself.
When considering volunteering In Nepal, it is important to remember that the primary objective is to serve or assist others. While traveling abroad can be a valuable experience for personal growth and perspective, it is crucial to prioritize the needs of the local community. If your goal is to volunteer, it is essential to seek out organizations with local ownership or partnerships and ensure that your actions do not displace skilled local labor. By prioritizing service over personal interests, you can truly benefit from the experience of volunteering abroad.
- Respect the local cultural norms.
When volunteering in Nepal, it is important to be aware of the cultural differences you may encounter, whether you are in a bustling city or a rural mountain village. Take the time to research cultural norms before your trip and remain open to adapting to Nepali culture. For instance, it is considered impolite to touch someone’s head, even if they are a student in your class, and declining tea when invited to someone’s home is also considered rude. If you are teaching English, be prepared for classroom norms that may differ from what you are accustomed to. By respecting cultural norms, you can establish a positive relationship with the community you are serving, and remember that making an effort is more important than being perfect. Get ready to enjoy plenty of chai tea and learn that nodding your head means “no” while shaking it side to side means “yes”.
- Beware of the misconception surrounding the notion of a “Western Savior.”
The concept of the “Western Savior” or “White Savior” complex involves Westerners perceiving their volunteer work abroad as a means of “saving” local individuals from their culture or way of life by imparting Western cultural values upon them. This notion is not only false, but it also contradicts the principles of both service and travel. Additionally, it disregards the fact that many Western cultural advancements have negative consequences or were achieved at the expense of non-Western cultures. It is important to avoid oversimplifying problems and instead, actively listen to others. To maximize your time volunteering in Nepal, it is crucial to lend your ears, not just your voice.
When discussing the acquisition of knowledge from indigenous societies or their way of life, it is crucial to refrain from using phrases such as “primitive culture” or “simple life.” Similarly, expressing admiration for their contentment with minimal possessions or their lack of concern for material wealth should be approached with caution. It is essential to take a moment to contemplate the underlying implications of such language choices.
- Don’t over commit or Overpromise
Organizations establish their job prerequisites with a purpose, hence it is crucial to ensure that you fulfill all the requirements and possess the capability to perform the assigned tasks proficiently and securely. In the event that you believe you possess suitable qualifications but do not precisely meet the stipulated requirements, it is advisable to reach out to the organization and inquire about their perspective. When considering volunteering opportunities in Nepal, it is essential to acknowledge the significant cultural adaptation that is required. Therefore, it is imperative to carefully evaluate your commitment and ensure that you are enrolling in a venture that you can successfully
- Don’t select a program that does not align with your values.
When comparing volunteer programs and organizations, it is important to consider their mission statements, as well as other factors. It is crucial to look at the projects the organization has undertaken and how it allocates its resources. Additionally, one should examine the content on the organization’s website to understand its focus and goals. It is also beneficial to research the other organizations that the program works with or supports. Finding a program that shares your values is essential for a successful experience, as it ensures that your contributions will be valuable to the organization and that you will feel appreciated and supported in your role.
- Don’t try to do everything on your own
When undertaking a significant endeavor like volunteering in Nepal, the inclination to handle everything independently may arise. While independence is commendable, it is crucial not to overlook the importance of involving your support system back home. In the event of an emergency, your family and friends can maintain backup copies of your information. Additionally, your social media network may be interested in following your journey and could potentially provide support to your organization through donations or other forms of assistance, such as sharing information. Moreover, connecting with alumni of your program, who can be found online, can ensure that you are adequately prepared for the experience. By reaching out and sharing your experiences, you can effectively process your emotions and maximize the benefits of this endeavor. Furthermore, this outreach can facilitate the establishment of connections and networks, allaying any concerns your family may have about your well-being.
- Don’t make your trip just for volunteering, make a plan for doing Trekking, Tour or Jungle Safari as well
Visiting Nepal for a short duration can be enjoyable and even adventurous. However, unless you possess extensive knowledge in your area of expertise and intend to train or educate others in a specific skill or procedure, it is improbable that a few days of volunteering in Nepal will enable you to make a significant impact. As Nepal is renowned tourist destination globally, is distinguished for housing the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest, Mount Kanchenjunga, Annapurna Mountain, and others. Additionally, Nepal holds significance as the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, revered as the Light of Asia so it is advised you to make a plan for getting involved in some tourism activities as well.