Meet Towsif, Global Health volunteer in Nepal
Towsif Aziz, a senior at University of North Carolina, Greensboro in pre-dental studies, returned in August 2016 from three weeks on a Global Health Quest to Nepal.
“I met the most amazing people when in Nepal for three weeks on a Global Health Quest. The staff at Healthy Smiles—a dental clinic in Kathmandu, where I was in service—was fantastic!”
Towsif Aziz, a volunteer with United Planet, shares how he was surprised that he felt at home as soon as he arrived in Nepal, both at the clinic where he worked and in his home stay. The fellows, doctors and patients he worked with daily, welcomed him as colleague. “I was never viewed as an outsider or a tourist, I was immediately part of the team.”
A pre-dental student in the U.S., Towsif volunteered daily at the dental clinic, which was about a 20-minute walk from where he lived while in Kathmandu. He purposefully took a different route each day when walking home so to fully take in the wonder of this Nepalese city.
“I got to meet people from all walks of life, from monks to ambassadors. I even met the granddaughter of the first person to summit Mount Everest! And yet, out of all these people, the most amazing were the children of OCCED (Organization of Community, Child and Environment Development), (pictured, right). We forged an incredible friendship, with me teaching them how to brush their teeth and care for their dental hygiene, and them teaching me how to speak Nepali. I enjoyed every second of my time.”
Today, Towsif remains in touch with Dr. Regeena or Dr. Aquila as friends and colleagues who he worked with at Healthy Smiles and with Anjlee, the mom of two young daughters who was head of the household at his homestay.
When sharing of his experience, Towsif is effusive how he felt himself grow personally and professionally from what he describes as a “fully, immersive experience.”
The preconceived notions about what it may be like to practice dentistry in a developing country that he knows he should not have had prior to traveling were shattered as he found Healthy Smiles just as advanced, with similar procedures, equipment and approaches to his other US-based.
Towsif’s main takeaway from this life changing experience is that he is aware that he has a lot more empathy and compassion. He demonstrated this by recounting the story of his flight home. When in the airport, waiting for his flight back to the States, he noticed a Nepalese young man in the airport waiting room, who appeared somewhat distressed. He acknowledged that while he probably would not normally have taken any action, he now felt compelled to walk over. Upon doing so, Towsif discovered that the young man had just left his family for college in the US. The conversation started a relationship that Towsif and this young man maintain today, weeks after they flew to Washington DC together.
This anecdote from Towsif is illustrative of United Planet’s mission to foster cross-cultural understanding, one relationship and a time, and how if this when multiplied by many would indeed build a community beyond borders.
“I learned much more from this experience than I could have anticipated and for that you have all my thanks forever,” reflect Towsif.