A Letter To Future Volunteers from A Former Volunteer (Barb Harman)

Hi future volunteers,

I think that you will enjoy Nepal very much – I did.  Here is what I did, in brief, so that you can understand where my opinions are coming from.   

Barb reaches the top!

I spent the first two weeks trekking in the Everest Region, just a male guide and myself – he was excellent and I never had any worries.  I spent several weeks working at the hostel site and living with a local family – they were wonderful and have found a very special place in my heart.  I spent my final two weeks in Pokhara, Chitwan, and trekking in the Annapurna Region, again just a male guide and myself for the trek, and again he was wonderful and I never had any worries.

 It is interesting that my husband, just as I was leaving for two months, said “who will be your guide?”  I said I didn’t know and it would probably be a local Nepali man.  He said, “just one man and you?”   I said probably, yes.  I guess he was worried and it never dawned on me to be worried.  He never had anything to worry about.  Both of my guides were incredibly wonderful and professional (you can imagine they would be or they wouldn’t have a job for too long).  They were excellent from every standpoint; their care, their concern, their knowledge, their direction, their partnership, their friendship……..in fact on both treks I felt I was trekking with a friend rather than a guide, and TOTALLY appreciated that it was just me and a guide and that I was not part of a large group.  

I imagine you are physically preparing yourself by exercise – running, etc is valuable as the air and the trekking take a lot out of you at higher elevations.  I got to 18,192 feet and was OK, but figure I was in pretty good shape – walk slowly.

Doma (Barb) is welcomed to the village

Mentally, I would prepare to be open-minded and allow yourself to take it all in and not necessarily be worried about what is so radically different.  By accepting it and becoming it, it all becomes you (I never felt anything was too terribly unusual); and I never had any issues from toilets to language to food to personalities.  It is interesting, in some ways I have found it “more difficult” to return to our ever increasing material world here in the US.  Don’t worry about language, you will learn a little Nepali and they know far more English – communication, although simple, was never a problem. 

I am sure that you will have a wonderful experience – you are about to embark on something you will find both challenging and rewarding in all ways.  I don’t think there is much I would change and feel it was more than worthwhile – for both myself and all of those I was involved with.

Have a wonderful trip and don’t hesitate to ask questions.  


Barb, or more affectionately  “Dolma” or “Dolma Didi” in Nepal and I loved it.


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