Putney Student Travel: Community Service Nepal

Putney, VT

Overview

Immerse yourself in the life of a remote village in the foothills of the mighty Himalaya. Teach English to village children and help rebuild homes which were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. Trek through verdant hills to discover hidden temples and sacred sites, and explore the medieval city of Kathmandu.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Teach English to village children and help rebuild a community schoolhouse.
  • Hike through misty hills to sacred shrines at the base of the Himalaya.
  • Have tea with a Tibetan Buddhist monk.
  • Follow the calls of monkeys to the hilltop temple of Swayambhunath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

OVERVIEW

Village Life & Service

Cradled between the sky-scraping Himalaya and steamy southern jungles lies “Nepal’s Mandala” — a fertile valley which earns its name from the remarkable density of magnificent sacred monuments, including seven UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites. This is the mystical heart of Nepal, and Kathmandu, the ancient capital and economic hub, is its epicenter. Out beyond the din and dazzle of the ancient city, lush rolling hills are studded with temples, and Nepalis live in agricultural villages with deeply rooted traditions. During this program we collaborate with members of the Tamang cultural group on critical infrastructure and education projects in a rural community outside of Kathmandu.

Throughout the 3 week trip, witness the stunning diversity of geographic and cultural landscapes that make Nepal uniquely beautiful. Immerse yourself in a traditional Tamang village in the foothills of the Himalaya, work alongside locals to improve their schoolhouse, and tutor young students. Learn the stories of many different Nepalis – from laboring porters to village farmers to a Tibetan Buddhist lama – to better understand the challenges many Nepalis face as they  adapt traditional life to the demands of the modern economy. Emerge with an appreciation for the complexities of rural development, and forge deep connections with the warm Nepali families and friends who share their culture with us. Upon successful completion of this program, students can expect to receive certificates recognizing between 60-80 hours of community service work.

Our host village is perched on a hillside overlooking the Kathmandu Valley, in a richly agricultural region. Spend your days collaborating with community members to construct new classrooms for the schoolhouse and teaching English to the village children. Help our local cook prepare group meals, and learn to make regional specialties with home-grown ingredients. In the late afternoons and evenings, explore the surrounding hills, visit the village monastery, learn Tamang dance, song, and conversational Nepali language with our welcoming hosts.  Accommodations are simple, and girls and boys stay separately in shared rooms in guest homes or the neighboring monastery.

Independent projects

Choose an independent project and pursue an aspect of Nepali culture of particular interest to you— learn to make momos with a family, learn a traditional song and dance from the village children, have tea with monks at a local monastery, or conduct a series of interviews with local people to learn more about their lives.

Excursions and Kathmandu

At the midpoint of our village work, trek from our home through the neighboring foothills to the spectacular Newari town of Nagarkot. Watch the sun rise on the snow-capped Himalayan range, and on a clear day, glimpse awe-inspiring Mount Everest. Spend the night in a traditional guesthouse, and trek back through lush pine forests. After saying goodbye to our Tamang friends, travel to a hilltop Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Hike in the surrounding hills, reflect on your service work under a canopy of colorful prayer flags, and learn yoga or meditation from monks in the abundant gardens.

Return to Kathmandu to explore the cultural menagerie of colorful bazaars, magnificent Hindu and Buddhist monuments, and ornate medieval architecture. Contrast the slow-paced agricultural life with the chaos of the ancient capital’s rapid urban development. Walk alongside pilgrims from around the world who share an appreciation of the unique beauty of this country in transition.

Accommodations

Group accommodations are carefully selected by Putney Student Travel to emphasize convenience, a positive group environment, and wholesome interaction with local people and fellow travelers.

In Kathmandu and on excursions, we stay in small hotels or lodges in double and triple rooms. In our host village, our group will stay in a simple guest home. Boys and girls stay in separate rooms, and leaders reside with students throughout the program.

Physical Challenge Level

This program is active. Days are filled with movement — working on our community service project, playing a game of soccer with local friends, or hiking in the Kathmandu foothills. We will take a two-day trek to Nagarkot, with several hours of hiking each day over gentle terrain.

A Typical Day

7 AM — Breakfast
8 AM – 12 PM — Service projects
12 PM –2 PM — Lunch and rest
2 PM – 4 PM — Service projects
4 PM – 6 PM — Help prepare dinner, play soccer, relax
6 PM — Dinner
8 PM — Group Meeting and/or group activity

During the week, we wake up between 6-7am, eat breakfast together as a group, and then head to the work site from 8am-12pm. Work may include teaching english to local schoolchildren, participating in a local harvest, or helping care for children in the local orphanage. We’ll break for a long lunch and rest time, then return to work for a few hours in the afternoon. After work, relax, play soccer with local friends, help cook dinner, or pursue independent research. After a group dinner together, participate in a meeting to discuss the day, plan for upcoming excursions, or simply play a game together.

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