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Discovering Lesotho’s Beauty: My Experience with rise international

By Vasiliki Zacharia

I am Vasiliki, an architect engineer from Greece. During my master’s program in International cooperation in Sustainable and Emergency architecture in Barcelona, my passion for travel and engaging with people from diverse backgrounds led me to Lesotho for a three-month internship with rise international.

After this transformative journey and returning to the comfort of my home, it’s time to share the key aspects of it. Although every experience has its ups and downs, I’ve chosen to focus on the bright side and the new lens through which I now view life.

Working with rise international as an architect in Lesotho was a profoundly enriching and eye-opening experience. It provided me with a unique opportunity to apply my skills and knowledge to address real-world challenges and make a meaningful impact in a community that I grew to deeply appreciate. riseinternational’s mission to support sustainable development and improve the living conditions in Lesotho resonated with me from the very beginning. As an architect, I was part of a dedicated team working on projects that ranged from building infrastructure to community development. Our work aimed not only to create physical structures but also to empower the local community with the tools and resources needed for long-term growth.

Lesotho is a captivating country. Beyond the picturesque landscapes, the breathtaking waterfalls, and the endless mountains, there’s something extraordinary that words cannot fully capture. It’s the ideal place to regain your relationship with nature, to breathe and walk around the most beautiful scenery. It’s an experience you must live to truly understand.

Someone once told me that life’s experiences depend on how we perceive them. Every encounter and every moment shared with others provides us with a unique perspective, a new pair of glasses through which to view the world. If these perspectives resonate with us, we can wear them from time to time, gaining new insights along the way.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” 

Marcel Proust.

To me, the real value of this experience lies in the  people. I had the privilege to collaborate with. Despite our cultural differences and distinct backgrounds, they made me feel like I had discovered my rightful place. The Basotho people lead their lives in a simple, authentic manner, a way that I may have, in many respects, forgotten.

They are warm and have a natural gift for hospitality. They eagerly engage with newcomers, welcoming them into their homes and offering food and drink. In their company, I felt an instant connection to their community. They made an effort to familiarize me with their traditions and way of life but also to learn about my perspective of life and my culture.

Basotho people possess a sense of philotimo, a Greek term, which captures the essence of integrity, honour, and respect, shapes social interactions, fosters strong connections within communities, and underpins the sense of pride and identity. It’s a concept that is difficult to fully capture in words but is deeply understood and appreciated by those who embody it in their actions and relationships. 

This experience has not only enriched my professional skills but also left a lasting impact on my perspective as an architect, reminding me of the profound impact we can have on communities in need. In Lesotho, I learned that it’s not just about discovering new landscapes; it’s about gaining new perspectives and insights by embracing the world through fresh eyes. 

Khotso Pula Nala (Peace, Rain, Prosperity)

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