I wrote this text after my internship in Nepal in spring 2014 for the publication ‘Impression of YIP – The Essence’, a publication that was brought to live in order to capture the essence of YIP. I was part of the project team together with 3 Yippies who worked on the development from the first idea to the final manifestation of a printed magazine which was a great learning process in itself. We wanted to show YIP’s different layers and lines to our network and beyond, viewed through the lenses of people who have been engaged in the program such as participants, alumni, contributors, organizers and founders.
For 5 weeks, the smell of Swedish cinnamon rolls was exchanged for the one of curry. My every morning coffee became a daily Masala-Milk tea. Instead of being surrounded by the Scandinavian Fjord, I enjoyed looking out onto the world’s highest mountains, the Himalaya’s.
Having been given the opportunity to spend a 5-week internship through YIP, at an organization of our choice, my first big leap was to the Far East. All of us Yippies went through an intense preparation process beforehand: We were asked to explore our personal intentions, find a place, form groups and come to a common ground by formulating group purpose statements. International internships are a part of YIP’s core curriculum. It is a chance to apply our learning and take part in the work of an existing socially and environmentally, sustainable project or organization. It is both an opportunity to learn from experienced change makers, who have already brought their initiative into being and also to practice being engaged with the world.
Together with two other Yippies, the preparation process brought me to the decision to spend my internship at the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation, KRMEF, in Nepal. KREMF aims to promote health and sustainable development through a synergy of man and land. The foundation’s various working fields, it’s values and the cultural differences appealed to all three of us, as none of us had been in such a different place from our homes on this earth before. I had been longing for this adventure for a long time, and through attending YIP, I eventually found meaningful purpose and courage to dare this big leap. I was more than ready to face all challenges that would come along!
By the middle of February 2014, I finally found myself in the expected whirl of arrival. I could not quite name it or tell what it consisted of. Sitting in the taxi going from the airport to KRMEF, I looked out of the window onto the road, trying to capture everything that my eyes could see: Overcrowded busses with passengers squeezing out of the doors, colorfully dressed women carrying heavy loads on their backs and an immense amount of vehicles which caused terribly bad air. Behind all that which seemed to me like utter chaos, was a structure, which I couldn’t quite understand yet. On this drive the three of us almost didn’t speak a word- too much new for our western eyes that we didn’t know where to put it all. “Finally a real overstimulation, which is not caused by TV or a PC”, I thought.
Krishna Gurung, the founder of KRMEF, welcomed us so warmly, as if he was meeting good old friends. This was only the beginning of getting to know him: He did become our dear friend and mentor and we were a part of his family from this moment on. His generous kindness and the way he truly lives change making in every moment was a huge inspiration for us. It has been incredibly encouraging to see how simple ideas fulfill the needs that take place in rural Nepal, and already function as a role model for the whole country.
Within only 4 years, different programs have been started and successfully developed, such as: Biodynamic farming, a women’s handicraft workshop, a Waldorf inspired kindergarten and an alternative energy production. During our stay we mainly worked on a natural building project that would function as a cow and chicken shed. Day by day we unsteadily balanced on the bamboo scaffold, building with handmade bricks out of sand and water, trying to find the right spot for each of them, one after the other. We enjoyed interacting with the local villagers, while learning our first words in Nepali and exchanging laughter that came from the heart.
Having expected to get lots of new perspectives within this different surrounding, I began a journey, back to my most inner questions, depths and desires. My outer world had changed so rapidly and I had expected to learn from this, to take in the new. In fact, the opposite became true. I was faced so intensely with myself as I had never experienced before. Living and working at the foundation, I knew that I had everything I needed; the circumstances I had were perfect, and still, there was this feeling of an inner fight and being far from peaceful with myself.
It took me a while. For days I was frustrated while the other two Yippies witnessed me in a distant and grumpy mood. However, after some time, from a place in myself, the world started to make sense again. I knew that I didn’t go through all of that struggling in vain, but instead felt that I was really moving forward. By having faced everything that came up inside, I was simply growing and becoming more myself, and that made my heart sing. I had travelled far in distance by plane and came close to something essential within me.
Even after the Internship, when I was back in Sweden, enjoying my morning coffee again, I was holding this feeling for a few more weeks; this feeling that one has after a tough physical workout. When putting down the weights, one senses how the muscles slowly release the tension- a certain mixture between pain and pleasure. Having finished the training one starts to feel that energy has been gained which strengthens. When thinking back on really good sport sessions, there’s both discomfort and fun.
This internship has made me feel more at home in myself. I got a glimpse of how change making can look like, but got to feel once again so strongly that you really have to start with yourself. And this realization made me trust in YIP even more, as that is what this program’s focus is: Strengthening young people’s capacity and awakening them to their highest potential. True authenticity is everyone’s leadership.