The people I met and the experiences I had during my time in Nepal forever changed my life. I cannot explain why I wanted to volunteer in Nepal, but I had always had been fascinated with the mystique and beauty of the country. Nepal is such a diverse country both environmentally and ethnically. As a young boy I would read books about Nepal and fantasize about what it would be like to trek through the hills and sacred mountains or explore the wilderness and remoteness of the flat lands of the country and beautiful rivers. I would think about the beautiful and mysterious monasteries in mountains and knew one day I would travel there. In August of 2011, I turned those fantasies into reality when I signed up to volunteer as a English teacher. I arrived in Kathmandu on a sweltering august day. I was picked up at the airport and stayed at an apartment filled with volunteers from all over the world. It was wonderful to talk and exchange ideas. I was able to get a week of very informative and helpful training on language, culture, social issues and economic condition of Nepal. I chose to volunteer at two separate placements, the first was in a beautiful village in the Chitwan district, called Patihani. When I arrived I was greeted by a fellow volunteer by the name of Jose, as well as my host mother and host father, Krishna and Gita. I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed my time there and how grateful I was to be allowed to stay with such a lovely family and teach in that community. The community I taught was the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities I have ever seen. They were the traditional fishermen. Their children would go to the governmental schools which had very minimal amount of resources for their development and they had nobody around them to guide and supervise their study. I was very lucky that my placement there let me 2 months to teach them and guide them through their text books after their school hours. In those months I tried my best to deliver and help them with the language. The most amazing thing was their insasiatable desire to learn. Each student was equally enthusiastic, motivated and eager to learn. Their desire to learn had a profound effect on me. It made me want to stay longer and work harder to do all I could to assist them in their studies.
It is impossible for me to list all the amazing things I witnessed and was able to do while I was there, but some of the highlights included, watching my friend Jose play Beatles songs, (in Botetole, a nearby village we taught at in the mornings) he was able to get the whole class and many of their parents to sing obladee obladah, as well as several traditional Nepali folk song , Having dinners with friends from the village river opposite the famous and beautiful Chitwan national park, volunteering in the community which really needs help, meeting locals and travelers and volunteers from around the world with the effort to real change making and lastly daily football matches with my friends and students.
In early October the schools were closed for the Dashain festival. It was one of the greatest festivals in Nepal and all the schools and offices were closed for 15 days. It was the time I was really introduced to Nepali culture and lifestyle.
Just after the festival I was able to travel with another volunteer I had met in Kathmandu. We were able visit the holy place of Lumbini (the birthplace of the Shakyamuni Buddha/Siddhartha Gautama) and later that month I would go trekking with several volunteers and my Nepali friend. I was fortunate enough to do a section of the Annapurna circuit and watch the sun rise above 10,000 feet! After a few more weeks teaching in Patihani I took a bus to go volunteer at Pal Ewam Namgyal Monastic School (a school associated with the famous Namgyal monastery in Mustang) Again I would meet dozens of other volunteers. I was welcomed warmly by both the staff and monks there. Teaching here was a true blessing and I was so fortunate to have the opportunity. The monastery was located in Bhakundae just outside the city of Pokhara. I was incredibly grateful for the time I spent there. I was able to learn a lot about the rich and beautiful Tibetan culture as well as their sixty plus year struggle for independence.
Photo: Trekking on Annapurna Region
Photo: My time on Monastery in Pokhara, Nepal
In early January I traveled back to Patihani for a few days to say goodbye to my Nepali family, and then was welcomed into Shasank’s apartment in Kathmandu for an additional two nights before boarding a plane back to America.
My experiences in Nepal forever change who I am and how I look at the world. It created within me a deep desire to teach and to do what I can to help the people of Nepal. I met so many great people there and made so many friends many of whom I still talk to on a regular basis. I still think about my time in Nepal, the people I met, the kids whom I had taught, the people who have inspired me, the trails I have once walked and the house in Patihani where I have lived for two months. The work DAV does to help place volunteers and raise funds for worthy causes in need is of the utmost importance. Working as the Overseas Director is something I do without payment and I do that because I derive great happiness from helping the lovely people of Nepal. Nepal is a country where so much is possible and I hope to help as many people as I can in my lifetime. Please let know if there if I can help answer any questions you may have about my experiences or Nepal in general. I am always willing to talk, or help answer questions if I can. Thank you for reading,
Thank you for reading,
-Nicholas Mele Beaudoin
18 Jackson Way, Newbury Massachusetts, USA