I chose to go to Nepal because I wanted to find a country as unlike Britain as I could. That I certainly achieved. I chose to volunteer because I wanted not to see the country as a tourist sees it, but to understand it as someone living and working there. The two placements were an outstanding opportunity to do just this. The first placement was very positive: I learnt how people live on almost nothing, coped with daily cuts in electricity, shortage of water, and political shutdowns, but always managed to stay calm and happy. The second placement gave me an entirely different set of insights. I had perhaps thought as a westerner that Buddhism had some of the answers to our global problems. I still think there is something in this, but I learnt also that even the most idealistic institutions have their shortcomings. We are all human.