Ready for the Ten-Day Trek

The last blog post was yesterday, so there isn’t much to discuss regarding the happenings at the Hanafil Center. Today was a pretty mellow day, we discussed risk prevention and nutrition before we finalized what we were packing for the ten-day trek. We portioned out the food we needed for the ten days, breaking large bulk bags of raw ingredients into each group’s supply. We’re taking a lot of carb-based things, such as pasta, rice, and potatoes. We also have a large selection of spices and other ingredients that we’re going to take along, so the food should hopefully taste good and be fun to make. Besides that the only real thing we did was packed our bags again, carefully distributing weight between different group members. Tomorrow we leave early in the morning on a seven-hour drive to where we are going to be going on the actual trek. 

Have you confronted different cultural and ethical norms while abroad? How are you managing working with these differences?

Not as much as I was expecting. We’ve been so busy and haven’t had that much time to really leave campus so I feel like I haven’t had to face the challenges associated with different norms. Most of the Hanafil staff and especially the instructors are used to working with Americans, and the entire campus feels pretty geared towards an American-like experience. The one main exception was when we went to Mussoorie where we saw firsthand the differences in culture. There are so many different norms with things like the basics of how people interact with you being significantly altered. I had one woman come up to me and ask to take a picture with me just because I was a white tourist. The way you buy things is significantly different as well, a bartering system is used where you have to barter with shopkeepers to try and get the best price. 

Can leaders ever follow other people—or do they always need to lead? Why or why not?

Leaders not only can follow others, but they sometimes need to. Part of being a good leader is recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and realizing when someone else may be more qualified or might have a better idea. Following others is also imperative to creating a positive working group dynamic; if everyone always tried to be in charge it would be utter chaos. Recognizing when to follow and when not to follow others makes you a better leader, and it’s a balance that needs to be learned through trial and error. 

What are you looking forward to on the upcoming trek? What are your anxieties/concerns and how will you predict addressing these?

I’m really excited to just go out and be put out of my comfort zone, but also really have a unique and exciting experience. I really like the group that’s here and I think that it will be a lot of fun to get to know everyone better, both through the ups and downs of the trek. I think it’ll be really cool to go into the small villages along the way and see how they live and act. 

As far as my concerns go, I don’t really have many large concerns. The biggest is that it’ll be cold and that my fifty-pound pack will be really heavy, but both are unchangeable factors and I’m sure I’ll be able to be fine with both. I packed plenty of warm gear and we will be hiking a manageable distance every day, stopping for plenty of breaks along the way. 

Overall I am really looking forward to the trek and think it’ll be a great once in a lifetime experience.