Haneen’s Story: Traveling to Nepal to Break Communication Barriers
By Haneen Hussain ·
January 23, 2017
This post is part of the Oola Travel Adventures Series, which chronicles the adventures of Oola pioneers far and wide, in pursuit of mountains and lakes to rivers and waterfalls. Each post is a guest post from a brave Oola pioneer.
About the Oola Pioneer
NAME: Haneen Hussain
DESTINATION: Kailali, Nepal- Tikapur
TIMING: October 2013
PURPOSE: Volunteering Mission with Reach Out to Asia
EXPERIENCE: Haneen Hussain’s travels to Nepal on a mission trip changed her trajectory. What started out as a cultural exchange became a life change!
I traveled on a mission to support a school in Kailali province of Western Nepal. Our team consisting of four members from: Qatar, Sudan, Syria and Palestine, had designed a class of cultural exchange showing our different cultures through customs, food, national dress, wedding celebrations and some demographic information on each country with a briefing on Islam basics and Arabic language.
The interaction from students, teachers and school admins was beyond description. We had people standing outside the class, popping in from the windows all eager to listen and watch. The school principal came to the class and explained to us the national dress that he was actually wearing, piece by piece. The translator teacher also brought his wedding photo album, to explain to us the local wedding customs. The questions and interactions from students were beautifully unstoppable. I enjoyed every single minute of it. I walked in with the assumption that I was going to teach something; I ended up teaching and learning at the same time.
The exchange of information with grace and pride happened all naturally, which made me think, we don’t really need bridges to communicate, we need simplicity and sincerity, and things will flow naturally.
The fact that these kids had the lowest level of basic educational tools, but had the strong desire to learn and get knowledge was so humbly inspiring to me. I spoke to many of them and couldn’t help noticing the energy they had within, that only needed that small trigger to be released. I know by now, they will be the greatest motivators for change in their country. The whole experience was something that I will never forget.
My fascination with communication didn’t stop at the classroom. I wanted to connect with nature and one of the things you must do while in Western Nepal is ride an elephant in nature. After finishing our elephant ride, I asked the guard if I can touch the elephant that took us in the tour, and he nodded: Yes! I stood in front of her (yes she was a beautiful female), wiped her trunk. She was so focused on me with her two eyes; she started flaring her ears with happiness! That was the greatest communication moment of my life with an animal.
How Travel Impacted Haneen
After coming back, I knew I wanted to do more to enhance people’s lives and alleviate vulnerability. I’ve switched my career from engineering to relief and development. Now, about three years later, I’m obtaining a master’s degree in Conflict Management and Humanitarian Action, to be in a better position to serve our people, our region and the entire world.
I would encourage you to: Travel, serve, have fun, communicate, breathe, learn, eat, dance, be humble, take risks, spread positive vibes, and most importantly, give yourself a good pat on the back.
All photos courtesy of Haneen Hussain from her travels in Nepal