Moving Mountains: Bringing Higher Education to the Himalayas
Wed, July 2, 2014
This past month, I got to meet the majestic Himalayan mountains and submerge into a world that froze in time 500 years ago. During my time hiking in the Everest region, I can say Nepal's mountains and people completely stole my heart. Our porter, Raman, was 18 years old and incredibly smart. I asked him what he wanted to be and he said he wanted to be an economist some day. Being an aspiring economist myself, I just felt compelled to teach him. It was difficult. First of all, he didn't know any English and neither did I know any Nepalese, so I had to rely on things other than language to do any teaching. I started asking my guide about Nepalese children's stories during the day and learning as many stories as I could, applying economic concepts to them. Those became the Econ lessons.
And the lessons became quite popular during dinner time in the tea houses. The other guides and porters would huddle around the table, learning, asking questions, and helping me explain things to Raman. They all brought the little notepads to write down English words they didn't know before and study them. It was inspiring to see that anyone can learn if they set their minds to it. At the end of the trek, we left Raman with an economics book called Free to Choose by Milton Friedman. He went back to his rural village, which was two days of walking away. He told us how excited he was to see his mom and his sister, and he even put them on the phone with us so we'd say hello as well. He looked very happy to go help his family with his newly earned income.
Raman was a very smart kid, but his chances of getting a higher education are low. His family is very poor and he has to help them by working as a porter, carrying an average of fifty pounds on his back (for seven to ten hours a day) up the mountains. They usually start working as porters when they turn 10. Nonetheless, we can do something about this. I've been contacting local NGOs that sponsor kids like Raman and help them obtain higher education. I'm really excited to start fundraising and helping Raman (and hopefully other kids like him) attain a better future.
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