Rachel Petit (Nepal)

Rachel Petit is a 23-year-old Canadian, currently pursuing a Masters degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action concentrating in global health at Sciences Po’s Paris School of International Affairs. Before coming to Paris, Rachel graduated from the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences, majoring in health and society. Over the course of her degrees, Rachel has been actively involved in advocating for the human rights of homeless and at-risk youth in Calgary and refugees in Paris. Rachel is working towards a career in international health advocacy and is grateful for the opportunity to develop her skills with The Advocacy Project. Rachel was drawn to working with AP, and specifically with CWN, out of a desire to contribute towards sustainable initiatives that support Nepali women in the realization of their right to health. Upon her return from Nepal, Rachel reflected that, "to arrive at one’s own conception of happiness, there is a minimum set of conditions that must be afforded to all individuals, regardless of cultural context, in order for them to be able to realize their full potential as human beings capable of exercising rational choices."

Life lessons learned in Nepal: relax, you have everything you need

13 Jun

Before beginning this journey, I was told several times that Nepal would change me. While I’m not sure that it’s changed me , it has undoubtedly intensified some of the convictions that form the core of my being. I’ve gone from being a health-conscious vegetarian to a sun saluting, OMing vegan. That’s rights, I’m slowly slipping into hippiedom (yes… that’s actually a word). I can honestly say that these small tweaks to my routine have led to greater mental clarity and a sense of calm that I’ve seldom felt before. Aside from occasionally having to tune out the people trying to sell me hashish or convince me to “buy milk” for their child (see previous post), I feel connected with my environment and the people within it. This might be the yoga or existential discussions I’ve been having a lot of late talking, but I feel as though some of the answers to the questions that guide my actions have been made clear.

I’ve had people ask me if and why I find human rights/humanitarian work fulfilling, if I worry about the financial realities of starting a career in this line of work, and even what I want in life. I’m waiting for the day a hippie comrade takes my hand and leads me into a conversation about the meaning of life. I’ve learned the importance of being flexible, adaptable, and a jill of all trades. Make a detailed budget in excel? No problem (I’m very far from being an excel expert), write a job description and become the head of human resources? Sure, why not! Design a website? Let’s do this. I think we all have a lot of untapped capacity that we are hesitant to explore. My realization since being here? The hardest part is just getting started! Life is like yoga, sometimes you might OMMMMM awkwardly when everyone else is silent… I’m learning move past the inevitable imperfections of any situation, and diving into the task at hand.





Above are some photos  from a full moon ceremony that I attended after work at Boudhanath Stupa. I’ve really enjoyed having a reason to pretend to be a professional iPhone photographer

It’s only been two weeks since I arrived, and the Nepali people have taught me many things. The first thing I’ve learned is to: RELAX. I don’t consider myself to be particularly high strung, but I definitely have a constant hunger for efficiency, regularity and order. Throughout my academic undertakings I’ve always made work plans that I strictly followed, a specific spot in the library that I would make sure to wake up early and secure etc. The ironic thing is that I have a love/hate relationship with changing circumstances and uncertainty. The most wonderful moments in my life have been completely unplanned and unexpected. When I was 18 I got one of my first tattoos “proverbs 3:6”. This verse means: in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths. Him in this verse is referring to the God of Christianity, but a more universally applicable interpretation of this verse could be equated to: send out good vibes within the world and towards your fellow man, and you will end up where you’re supposed to be in life.

When I find myself trying (unsuccessfully) to control every single aspect of my surroundings, I have to remind myself to relax, trust that I’m on the right path and embrace the occasional (or regular) deviation.  If the torrential downpour washes away the road, I guess I’m staying put. When the electricity goes out, I’m reading my books. Deviating from the initial game plan is O.K (and often the right course of action) so long as the result is the same. I’m a firm believer that new and unexpected experiences often lead to a greater understanding of oneself and the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about myself in a foreign, and at times challenging environment.


When I first arrived in Nepal, the pace of life, much like the traffic, seemed quite slow compared to what I’m used to. In coping with this change of pace, I’ve learned to stop frequently to reflect on why I’m here and what I’m ultimately trying to accomplish. The Nepalese people have taught me the importance of being present in the moment, rather than unconsciously evading now by worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. They have also taught me to use whatever it is that I have at my disposal to get the job done done. In “Canadian” this would translate to using what you have to “get errrrr done”. I’ve seen people fixing what looks to me to be an irreparable umbrella and old shoe. I’ve also seen an entire sewage system be changed using nothing but bricks, a pick axe, a hand saw and some hard manual labor. Il admit that there’s been many occasions that I’ve simply thrown things out once they are broken and bought a new version of that same thing. Moving forward, I want to incorporate a greater consciousness of how I could refurbish what I have, or use it for something new.

Today, try slowing down and using what you have at your disposal as the Nepali people do. Smile at the world and watch as it smiles back at you.



Posted By Rachel Petit (Nepal)

Posted Jun 13th, 2017

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