Next Stop, Nepal
By Guest Contributor on Thursday, January 12th, 2012
January 10 was a “great day for the Peace Corps and the nation of Nepal,” according to Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 67-70). The agency hosted a reception at Peace Corps headquarters to celebrate its re-entry into Nepal. Since the program’s start in 1962, over 4,000 Peace Corps Volunteers had served there, making it one of the leading countries for Peace Corps involvement. The program was suspended in 2004 for security reasons, but since that time the country has undergone a great deal of political change and stabilization, and is now delighted to welcome back Volunteers.
“All Nepal RPCVs are thrilled that the Peace Corps is returning to Nepal.” says Aaron Rome. “It is especially gratifying for Friends of Nepal, the association of RPCVs who served in Nepal, because for the past 7 years our members have worked tirelessly to help make this day possible.” Rome leads the Friends of Nepal group.
Among the distinguished guests at the morning reception were Former U.S. Representative Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.)(Nepal 70-72), Nepali Ambassador Dr. Shankar P. Sharma, National Peace Corps Association President Kevin Quigley (Thailand 76-79), and many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served in Nepal during its 42-year long program, including Malcolm J. Odell (Nepal, 62-64), a member of the first group to volunteer in the country in 1962. Also in attendance was Senator Harris Wofford, one of the original architects of the Peace Corps, and long-time supporter of the Nepal program.
In his remarks, Ambassador Sharma expressed his delight at the Nepal RPCVs’ capacity as goodwill ambassadors on behalf of Nepal. The reception also included remarks from many other important players in the arrangement, including Director Williams, Jim Walsh, and Senator Wofford. Concluding the event, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Director, Ambassador Sharma, and USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia Nisha Desai Biswal. A garland was then presented to Ambassador Sharma as a token of good will.
“There’s something different about Nepal, something special” said Director Williams. Somewhat serendipitously, the first group of Volunteers to serve in Nepal in over eight years will arrive in the fiftieth anniversary year of Peace Corps involvement in the Himalayan nation.
“Peace Corps had a proud history in Nepal, helping to train teachers, build water systems and provide assistance in other ways to one of the world’s poorest but most magnificent countries,” says David Jarmul (Nepal 77-79), associate vice president, news and communications, Duke University. “Nepal’s civil unrest forced Peace Corps to withdraw, but those of us who had the privilege of working there never stopped hoping for its return. This is wonderful news for both countries.”
You can read the Peace Corps press release here.
Thanks to Swarthmore College extern Morgan Williams for this blog post.