Lessons Learned

Our professional nurse, friend, and new beloved family member, Sonam Sherpa, commented, “I can not believe how much every EEY member has grown in the last two weeks!” As a co-leader,  I would have to agree. We have met our share of challenges, but these have indeed helped build character. Such challenges include:

1) Helping bury one kilometer of water pipe up a 50 degree rain forest in the Himalayas so that our sister school, Chuulemu, could have fresh drinking water twelve months a year. This was during an intense monsoon storm with a plethora of leaches. Yet year round fresh spring water flowed for the first time in Chuulemu’s history.

2) With 20 TSW staff members (who have between them five different Nepali castes), numerous Buddhist monks from our new sister school, Taksindu Gumba, we created fire lines to haul stones up to 50 lbs to create a new toilet/bathhouse and septic tank. We also carried clay we dug in the forrest while hauling lumber over a pass to create the roof of our structure.  Not only will this building and tank last for 15 years, but it is also necessary for Taksindu to be approved as a registered school.

As a result of the teams endurance and ability to adapt, we have learned invaluable life lessons. As our team has stated in our exploration of the five lenses, these lessons include:

1) The value of education.   Many people in the United States take for granted the importance of a solid education. We have met students who walk up to two hours a day so that they can learn to read and write. The four porters we have interviewed, have stated that this trek will allow them to pay for their childrens’ education. We indeed are fortunate;

2) The value of global citizenship. With a total of 30 on our TSW/EEY team, we helped complete tangible projects that have the potential to change hundreds of people’s lives. However, it took the whole team’s focus and dedication to do so. In addition, our activity, according to Karma Sherpa, our invaluable leader, has “given much needed hope to the communities of Solu Khuumbu.” We indeed experienced these words, since with every project, there were numerous village members who were invested in the work.

3) The value of family and community. Our team members have consistently reflected that while the Sherpa/Buddhist people have very little money, they are “happier than most” since they value their family and community. In one of our interviews, the 86 year-old head Lama of Taksindu Gumba stated: “I came to this monastery many years ago because I believe in global citizenship. There is goodness in all of us.” Indeed, there has been!

Please excuse my verbosity, but Joely and I are extremely proud of our engaged youth. We will return in four days, and I hope that you see the profound difference in every EEY member as Sonam, Joely and I have.

Humbly Yours,

Ryan Gray

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