This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Nepal with a service group called Students Shoulder-to-Shoulder in order to collaborate with The Small World to build two schools in remote Nepali villages. Throughout the experience, I was awed by how gracious and welcoming the staff of The Small World was to our group. Their fantastic cooks kept us well-fed, their experienced trekking guides helped us through the mountainous terrain on our many day-long treks, and each staff member worked diligently to aid us in building the schools. The Small World exposed us to all Nepal has to offer, from the breathtaking peaks of snowy Himalayan mountains to the bustling capital of Kathmandu to the serene Buddhist monasteries nestled in the lush forests of central Nepal. I got to see cultural and geographical phenomena that most people only dream of seeing one day, and I have the The Small World staff to thank for that.
The generosity of The Small World staff extends beyond the acts above, though. Each staff member radiated kindness, joy, and a commitment to making the world a better place. Being around people who have dedicated their lives to empowering those in need and encouraging education inspired me, and I am still in awe over the capacity for human empathy and kindness I saw in them. Our group formed relationships with each staff member, and by the end of the trip, they were no longer just our project partners. They were our friends. I think back fondly on the many games of soccer and volleyball played at the building sites in the villages of Mukli and Ringmu. Although we spoke different languages and had different customs, those trivial things melted away to expose the true nature of humanity—the desire to connect with other human beings.
One of my favorite memories of the trip was visiting the Himalayan Hope Home, The Small World’s orphanage for at-risk Nepali girls. Our group got to interact with the girls through volleyball, reading books, playing on swings, and a massive dance party. The Small World had changed the lives of these thirty girls by giving them love, shelter, and a new chance at life. Their smiling faces and carefree personalities inspired me, and I will never forget the kindness the girls showed me that July day.
Working with The Small World and Students Shoulder-To-Shoulder this past summer completely changed my life, and I am eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with some of the best people I have ever known. Since I have returned from Nepal, I have applied for a leadership course in order to further the lessons I learned on the trip. I hope to take the desire for empowerment shown by the staff of The Small World and make a change in my own community. I hope to one day go back to Nepal and work with The Small World again because their mission and their efforts in Nepal are truly inspiring.
[caption id="attachment_890" align="aligncenter" width="1864"] Grayson Sword with team with Shoulder to Shoulder in Summer 2017 in Solukhumbu[/caption]
Asheville, North Carolina