The circumstance in which I met Adrienn Treitz occurred in the worst moment of my day in a small town of Italy when I was really sore in my feet for the walk on the via francigena. On that occasion, however, immediately she showed to me that some people can transform the world in a better place just with the kindness.
In fact Adrienn helped me a lot alleviating my pains. For this reason, when I remember my path in Tuscany (and my dinners), my thoughts mostly go to Adrienn, because she is very special. I lived funny times and I really enjoyed my path with her. She is Hungarian, lives in Germany and is currently in Nepal. It is not the first time that she goes there and so I decided to interview her remotely.
I apologize if my English is not perfect.
- 1 Adrienn tell me about yourself: who you are, what you do, where you come from. In particular, explain one thing to me: how does a jovial person like you live in Germany?
I was born and raised in Hungary in a family of German origin, so learned both languages at once and went to a bilingual school. I was always interested in languages and cultures, so I started studying English and German. During my studies I got the chance as an exchange student in Germany and – classic story – fell in love. Love gone but I stayed in Germany and I am quite satisfied with the situation because I found a few other jovial people around. Even though making friends in Germany is not too easy, I learned to surround myself with people who are more relaxed, open-minded and where it feels right… and I feel at home.
- 2 What does traveling mean to you and why do you do it on foot? When you walk a path are you looking for something?
Traveling became an essential part of my life that I decided to lead from age 30 onwards. I never was a classic backpacker, and I had no chance to go on a gap year after school, as so many young people do nowadays. But I always was interested in culture, religion and loved encounters with strangers. After a long relationship ended I decided to start with the life I had always been curious about. I moved into a shared flat, bought a huge backpack and started tripping around alone. And soon realized how easy it was for me to be on my own and to connect with others. So by now I basically enjoy traveling alone even more than with friends. Or to put it the right way: I usually start traveling alone but am always in company somehow. Traveling on foot has only got special importance for me in the last three years. I was dreaming about the Camino to Santiago for a long time but had not walked it yet. After an Irish friend invited me to cross the Alps on the Via Francigena I fell in love with walking and the simple way of life as a pilgrim. Not because it was easy… I had aches and pains, blisters, bleeding wounds, lost toenails, swollen ankles… but there was something awoken in me for the beauty of walking just one step after the other. What I am looking for is the silence, the beauty of nature that you can only capture in that one single moment and of course all the encounters and stories of people you meet along the way, who seem to be all so different but still the same as you… And this is basically how I came to Nepal. My love for mountains and my fascination for simple life wanted to see the Himalayas
- 3 You are in Nepal now and it is not the first time you go in that place. What are you doing there?
I bumped into an add rather accidentally after being back to Germany my first part on the Via francigena and decided to check out the website. I realized that the organization did not only promote sustainable tourism in remote areas but also supports a wide range of social projects and accepts volunteers. I had a dream of going to Africa to help children when I was around 18.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) my parents couldn’t support that financially and the only chance to go would have been in medical support and this was not my field definitely! So, when I realized that Karmalaya is looking for people teaching English at village schools I was absolutely sure this was my chance to make dreams come true. I have worked in and visited several projects of my NGO, working at schools, orphanages, and a blind home. It has been an amazing experience and I am looking forward to my next visits here again
- 4 How is your relationship with a so different population in culture and traditions ? Can you talk with nepalese people ?
My first time in Nepal was 6 weeks in the summer of 2018. I fell in love with the kids here so much that right after back in Germany I decided to come back for longer. I asked my school for a year of unpaid Sabbatical and they accepted. I took an additional job as a waitress in the evenings and saved everything I could to spend 5,5 months in Nepal from September 2019 to February 2020.
The culture is very different and I still feel quite much at home here by now! It is a culturally, religiously and ethnically super diverse country and the natural beauty is hard to express with words. People here are open, interested, relaxed, and extremely helpful. They have treated me like family from the first day on, calling me “sister”, so yes, I can say, I made friends here! I also “adopted” a godson in one of the projects, who I fell for so much and whose education is now provided and I feel very very lucky to have the chance to give something back to the world, grown up in such a privileged situation
- 5 Which is the most impressed experience in Nepal?
It is hard to name one experience here… It is basically the everyday life here that makes you feel very grateful and happy for what you got. It is the smiling children in the dirt (without fancy plastic toys), their honesty and the light in their eyes, the empty plates after each meal (two times dal bhat a day for your whole life is not imaginable for us)… but also the wrinkled old women in the countryside who earn your respect by simply seeing their faces marked by a life of hardest physical work. Not to mention a life without electricity, flowing water, ice cold water, no safe drinking water, life in huts without windows etc… It is the everyday trust, gratefulness, happiness without having much that impresses me most and I try to learn as much as I can.
- 6 Tell us about some particular meeting and an episode that made you smile.
Here are many funny encounters which are mainly based on misunderstandings due to the language. One of my favorite stories is from my first day in the project last year, when the sister offered me some tea. This in Nepali would sound something like: “Chiya khane?” I was glad to be asked if I wanted to have tea with honey, so I thankfully accepted. But I was really really surprised and a bit disgusted when at lunchtime she asked me if I wanted to have dal bhat with honey? Strange people these Nepali, I thought, until I found that the word I understood as honey, “khane” simply meant eating/drinking. We are still joking about that every evening we have dinner with my host parents.
- 7 What are your plans for the future?
I don’t have too many plans for the future. I learned not to plan to much and take it as it comes. One step after the other.
The only plan I really have is to be satisfied, happy and make others happy as much as I can. And happiness for me definitely involves traveling. Also to Nepa
- 8 Why do you like helping people?
Helping others is a very egoistic act for me, because I simply do it because it makes me happy! I believe in karma. What goes around, comes around. As one of the 12-year-olds put it here: “Thank you for the gift. You made us very happy. And when this makes you happy, it makes us even happier. And then it just goes on and on.”
- 9 Adrienn, tell me the truth, are you planning to climb Everest? Please, can I come with you?
I will have to disappoint you. I won’t climb Everest. Right now. But if we both collect enough karma points in this life we could try it together in our next one.