My travel to Nepal for the International Sustainability School in the summer, 3 – 12 June 2017 is one travel experience that I certainly will never forget.

The 10-day experience was a combination of learning from experts, living like a local, trekking, and establishing friendship with amazing  professionals from different countries.

As a Liberian studying in China, I was fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to meet and bond with 7 bright fellows from Serbia (Aleksandar Maksimovic), Brazil (Joao Pedro Maciente Rocha), South Africa (Ra’eesah Hendricks), Kenya (Issac Mariga), Tanzania (Kazim Mustafa Mohamed Hamza), Philippians (Marylaine Uy Ma. Dujunco,) and Nepal Manju Khadka).  We were all selected out of over 500 applications from 73 countries.

In addition,  I met and learned a lot from two amazing officials of the Hands on Institute, Mr. Samrat Katwal, Executive Director, and Mr. Bijay Raj Poudel, Co-founder, Hands-On Institute,

The most fulfilling and unforgettable day of the trip for me was the trek to the Australian Base Camp on Day 3 of the training.

By coincidence, we had to travel to the camp on June 6, 2017 (World Environment Day). We went to complement the formal sessions in Kathmandu with a practical connection with nature.

We started the journey at 6am from Kathmandu in a vehicle and after about 7 hours of riding to Dhampus, and lunch break, completed the trip with forty (40) minutes of trekking uphill to the Australian Base Camp.

On our way and also while up there at the camp, we experienced the most breathtaking view of the snow-top mountains surrounded by clouds and trees I’ve ever seen. The breeze blowing in our faces, the clear blue skies, the surrounding clouds, and chirping of birds; there was so much beauty, solitude, and happiness that makes one forget about everything else and live in the moment. The smiles on the faces of the rest of the fellows confirmed the joy we all felt.

The journey through the trees was exciting. I now have a special feeling for flowers because of the bright and lovely flowers I saw on the way.

Walking through the forest felt like I was watching a movie; but yet I was a part of it.  The birds were whispering, beautiful flowers waving while the buffalos were quietly watching; I felt one with nature.

It was refreshing to finally arrive at the camp after 40 minutes of trekking. Trust me, it was more like the feeling you have when you win a marathon. Luckily, we met a better view of the landscape at the camp. The Himalayas was peeping at us through the clouds. I couldn’t help but stare and marvel at such beauty.

If there’s one thing I took back from this experience, that thing is, Nature is beautiful and must be sustained.

I recall the interaction with the local people during my time in Nepal and observed their unique culture; how friendly and accommodating they were, how happy they looked, how simple and appreciative they are; I was touched. I left Nepal with a new perspective of life- to live in the moment and find joy in simple things.

The discussions with my colleagues were stimulating and we established friendships that will certainly last for a lifetime. I wish to express sincere thanks and appreciation to Hands-On Institute for the opportunity afforded me.

Keturah M. Sandikie