Work with orphans better than Everest

MILLERSBURG – Mount Everest wasn’t necessarily the peak of excitement for one Susquehanna University student when he visited Nepal.

Seth Landgraf, of Millersburg, is a 2014 graduate of Susquehanna University. He is the son of Tim and Karen Travitz, and the grandson of Nancy Travitz, all of Millersburg, and the grandson of Jim and Joanne Rudy, of Lewistown

He visited the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal Dec. 15, 2013, through Jan. 5 of this year.

Landgraf, a public relations major, took the trip to fulfill study abroad requirements at the university.

Before heading to the base of Mount Everest, “We spent three days in the beginning in Kathmandu sightseeing and visiting a soap factory, paper mill and orphanage,” he said.

His group of students and class advisers took a helicopter to Lukla and began a 50-mile trek to the base of the world’s tallest mountain.

His memories, however, are not based on that journey to the top.

“People probably think that seeing Everest firsthand and its beautiful surroundings was my most worthwhile experience or moment. But it wasn’t,” Landgraf said. “Don’t get me wrong, it was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed; but what made this trip worthwhile for myself was having the opportunity to come together with my colleagues and advisers to provide hearty meals for a small orphanage that has no source of income. Knowing that I helped feed these children for three plus months was the greatest feeling I have and will probably ever have in my life.”

Landgraf doesn’t think lightly of the Mount Everest experience and the beauty of literally standing on top of the world. He just saw the opportunity in a different form.

“This was an enormous learning experience for me as a whole, the cultural immersion was incredible while trekking to Everest; walking beside the Sherpa who led us on our journey,” he said. “We had so many in-depth conversations with these amazing people about their daily lives, their families and perspectives on life.”

The overall experience was a very good one, Landgraf said.

“This is a huge help with my major by challenging my intercultural communication skills and developing my ability to further understand different cultural contexts,” he explained.

“We then spent two days in Kathmandu on the back end, after our trek (to Mount Everest),” he said. “We revisited the orphanage from the beginning, bringing food and supplies to last for three months.”

Landgraf said this humanitarian effort meant more to him than anything else on the whole trip.

His group also visited other historic sites, including many Tibetan Buddhist temples along the way, such as Tengboche and Namche Bazaar.

“We also visited many grave and memorial sites along the way to Everest base camp that paid tribute to all the trekkers from around the world who lost their lives.”

Landgraf said the orphans will forever remain in his thoughts when he looks back on his experience from the other side of the globe.

Since graduating, Landgraf has been seeking employment with a non-profit organization “with hopes of one day raising money for children in poverty stricken areas of the United States and Third World countries,” he said.