For the first month I lived in Kathmandu and worked for the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP). My time with KEEP was spent creating and editing the monthly newsletter and writing grant applications to aid earthquake victims. The highlight of my time with KEEP was visiting Jogitar, a village that was devastated by the earthquake. 76 out of 78 homes were completely destroyed and families were living in temporary tent homes they hand-built. I was fortunate enough to spend three nights with the happiest, most generous family I have ever met. On the third day, I tried to give them the customary $5 per night, but they refused. They told me that I am family and that in Nepal “guest is God.” My family in Jogitar taught me that happiness is not a place or an amount of money, but it is a state of mind.
I spent the second month in the city of Lumbini, known for being the birthplace of Buddha. Only a 15 minute drive from India, Lumbini is vastly different from Kathmandu. I spent five days bicycling around the surrounding villages, taking pictures, and getting a feel for the area. I spent the rest of the time traveling by foot or motorcycle to various important Buddhist sites, writing about them and taking photos. Some of this may be used in the future for a tourism brochure created by the Lumbini Development Trust.
I am eternally grateful to Mentors as well as my mentor, Alonzo Lyons, for making this experience possible. I cannot imagine spending my summer in a more valuable way.