It’s the 5th day of the new year and 12 days until I step on the plane to Kathmandu. I’m taking some time to look back on some of the preparations I’ve made for the trip—what I have done so far and what’s next.
The Lumos Application
When I first heard about the Lumos Award in the Fall of 2016, it filtered through my mind as one of those unattainable achievements that would be nice if I had the opportunity, but “how could I focus on that and simultaneously finish up my last year of classes, and where would I travel anyway?”, were my questions.
India, of course. This had been a two-year running thought in my head. Let me go to India to get involved with the poverty and poor living conditions of the slums. When this thought actually came to my mind, I’m not sure. Through a few books and articles about India I had read, I had formed a desire to go do these things.
But when this thought re-occured it was just two months until the next application deadline for Lumos. “Great”, I said.
So naturally, I decided to start an application.
Learning quickly that it was expected to take up to a year to secure a Visa to India—I didn’t let that spur the desire to go work volunteer somewhere, so I looked at a world map and picked a small little Arkansas-sized country sandwiched between India and Tibet, called Nepal. I knew, of course, that this was the home of the infamous Mount Everest and legends of monks and sherpas living in the thin air well above sea level. And after a few more Google searches and chats with friends who had been there, I learned that Nepal, like its southern cousin India, has been experiencing severe child poverty, unsanitary water, and slavery for just as many years. Somethign else I noted: in 2015 a massive earthquake shook Nepal, killing over 9,000 and injuring over 22,000. Families and school children were displaced from their homes and schools, and in Kathmandu, the capital, much of the infrastructure had been compromised.
“I have to go there”, I said.
After an insane month of crunching my time between classwork and researching everything for the Lumos application, I submitted an essay and a budget for my proposed trip to Nepal, set to take place from January-June of 2018, I submitted the application and hoped I would be selected for an interview in front of the Lumos board.
This was nerve-racking.
One week later I was notified about getting an interview. I had 8 big binders full of my project information ready to put in front of each board member, ready to answer most questions thrown my way. This was it! When I exited the room on the day of the interview I was sure I did not get funded for this trip. My nerves, or ignorance, or something got the best of me and they’d decline my request.
But the next week I received an email with the subject line: “Congratulations!”. All of my friends and family knew the verdict within the next hour. I would be going to Nepal in January.
Vaccines, Planes, and Paperwork
Shortly after my graduation in May, I began the preparations for my trip. Vaccines, additional paperwork, traveler’s insurance, payments to Projects Abroad for my accommodation and meals, a week’s worth of cold weather clothing and a high-tech water filtration system and some new tennis shoes.
Of course, I strung these checklist items over the course of 6 months. But now I’m less than two weeks from departure, and I couldn’t be more pumped.