Escape The Ordinary

What does it mean to ‘Escape The Ordinary’? Over this past semester, we asked ourselves and those around us this question. For some, it meant going on an adventure. And for others, perhaps overcoming a challenge. But often times, in our rather insular lives, we often fail to recognise our privilege. The pursuit of mountaineering, for example, is often a luxury many can’t afford. Escaping the ordinary, to some, may mean something as basic as attaining adequate resources to complete a university education. How, then, do we as a community extend our individual pursuits beyond ourselves? The answer, for one, was MIR’s continued support of the Khumbu Education Fund (KEF).

The KEF was founded by a team of Singaporean mountaineers, the core of whom were pioneers of MIR, in 2005, in the wake of the successful NUS centennial Everest expedition. While the climbers were successful in their endeavour, we all would know that the Sherpas are indeed the ones doing the heavy-lifting and risking their lives. Hence, to support the children of the Sherpa guide who had aided in the expedition, the initial goal of the fund was to sponsor the secondary education of his and a few other Sherpa children who resided in the remote village of Pangboche. Over the past decade, the four children, in particular, continued to do exceedingly well in school. Seeing how a good education remains as the gateway out of poverty, the KEF team pulled their resources together and committed to extending their support towards the children’s university education as well.

Mingma, Doma, Karma, Lhakpa and Little Chow (Stefen’s daughter), photo from Stefen

Since 2017, MIR reconnected with the club’s pioneers and the KEF team and pledged to also make yearly contributions towards the fund, as a means of actively getting the present community to give back and staying connected with our seniors. This being our third year, MIR 19 also made it one of our focus over the past semester, to give back. And in the very spirit of ‘Escaping The Ordinary’, we reached out to both our immediate and the wider NUS communities to support the fund. Whether it was through purchasing a T-shirt, joining us on a day-hike to Gunung Datuk in Malaysia or heading out on a Saturday morning for a day of climbing at Dairy Farm Nature Park, we were extremely heartened by the support we got, and the individuals whom we got to engage along the way as well!

MIR 19 at Gunung Datuk (885m) with fellow NUS students
MIR 19 at Gunung Datuk (885m) with fellow NUS students
MIR 19 at Dairy Farm Nature Park, after a morning climb, with fellow NUS students

Through our various events, MIR 19 eventually raised a total of $1,000, and we would like to extend our gratitude to one and all who had played their part! We took the opportunity to meet up with our pioneers and the KEF core team and over an evening of inspiring stories and reminiscence, we presented the amount to them and hope it would go a long way.

Catch-up over at Dr. Robert Goh’s house, with the KEF team and our MIR pioneers
Presenting the funds raised to Lulin and Robert

We were also pleased to hear a couple of great updates from the four children! Of course, Minga, whom we heard last year, was the first of the lot to graduate from university and is now a hydroelectric engineer, became the first engineer graduate in Nepal to summit Mt. Everest himself as well during the season in May earlier this year.

His sister, Doma, is in her final two months of a year-long internship in a 5-star hotel in Shanyang, China and upon her return, will graduate with a degree in hospitality. Lhakpa has just started her third year in dentistry in Kathmandu University, where she is one of her class’ top-performing students. The KEF supports her with about US$3000 yearly while the balance comes from the gracious sponsorship of the Tsering Fund. And finally, there is Karma who opted for nursing, even though she qualified through an extremely rigorous medical entrance examination. Even though she would not pursue medicine, she remains determined and even declared, “Nurses also can help people!”. These small stories have really put a face to the individuals whose lives we’ve been inspired by and hope would continue to empower their own communities.

KEF core team with Lhakpa
Karma helping out a group of doctors and medical students led by Kumaran in their project to offer medical help to villagers in Nepal

As the season of giving comes round, we found it apt to reflect on how far MIR has come, over the past 19 years, and how much we have to be grateful for. Over the past years, many of us have had the privilege to Escape The Ordinary and head to the mountains, but it’s through these very experiences, that we’ve also learnt that it becomes all the more imperative that we give where we can so others can Escape Their Ordinary too.

That said, reconnecting with our pioneers was also a reminder about the rich history, legacies and mentorship that underpin NUS Mountaineering today. As the spirit of MIR lives on, let us remember that there remains many things that are greater than us – and as we continue our individual pursuits, we similarly hope that the batches to come will follow in the footsteps of those who have become before us, and continue to pay it forward.

Chiew Hui & Nathaniel

President & Vice President, MIR 19

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