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Nepal is a country of diverse and rich geography, culture, and religion. The mountainous north contains eight of the world’s ten highest mountains, including Mount Everest – the highest in the world. In Nepal, it feels as though the clock has gone back several hundred years. The capital city is a maze of narrow, unpaved streets lined with terracotta-roofed houses. With its thousands of shrines, temples and antiquities, Kathmandu is often referred to as a “living museum.” Hinduism is practiced by most people in Nepal, while Buddhism, though a minority faith in the country, is linked historically to Nepal. Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha Gautama, a native of Nepal, gave birth to the Buddhist tradition.
The monasteries we work with are in Kathmandu Valley, Pharping and Nala, from 1 to 3 hours’ drive from our volunteer center in Katmandu. There are also monasteries in the Everest region, which require a 12 hour drive and hike. This location is suitable for the more adventurous volunteer traveler.
As a volunteer, you will teach different subjects, including English, and have one on one English conversation classes with the monks at the monasteries. You will also have time to learn about Buddhism while doing this. You will teach novice monks, both adults and children!
Because the monks spend their lives inside the monastery, this program provides them with the amazing opportunity to learn English, Math, Science and other subjects and experience another culture, from international volunteers. There monasteries take in children from the age of eight. Some children come from mountain villages where otherwise they wouldn’t have an education, so they join the monastery to have a better start in life.
We will assign volunteers to a specific monastery, depending first on needs and availability and then on preference. Volunteer projects may include:
Teaching: Depending on your abilities and experience, you may assist a local teacher, while others may lead a class on their own. Volunteers will teach English informally, which gives you the opportunity to use your imagination and plan your daily lessons as you see fit. You may also get to teach other subjects like math, science, sports, etc.. There are no guidelines, other than to engage your class and allow them to practice English. Volunteers teach on average four classes a day of around 45 minutes each for both children and adult monks.
Other Tasks: Volunteers may also have the option to get involved in other tasks around the monastery, such as gardening, cooking or helping in the library. The participants are more than welcome to join their daily routine. You can also observe and take part in morning and evening Puja (worshiping).
Schedule: Volunteers will work Monday-Friday and have Saturday and Sunday free.
Holidays: Please note that most of the monastery students are on vacation during the months of December and January. Very limited monastery will take place during this time. Volunteer work does not take place during national holidays, but you are always welcome to join in the local celebration.
Internet: Wi-Fi is available in Katmandu and isn’t available in all the Monasteries. Internet and phone service are available in nearby villages (for an extra fee)
Accommodations: During your volunteer placement, you will stay in a monastery in either a shared or private room. Standard rooms will house 4 to 6 volunteers, or you can choose to upgrade to a double or private room for an additional fee (subject to availability). Staying in the monastery is a great way to experience a level of cultural and linguistic immersion that goes far beyond the limits of a tourist. Electricity is available, although power outages are common.
Food: You will be provided with three meals a day during the week. The typical Nepalese meal is ‘daal, bhaat, tarkaari’ (lentil soup, rice, and vegetables). Other foods such as noodles, ‘roti’ (flat round bread), and different seasonal fruits and vegetables are also eaten. Boiled water will be available for drinking. Only breakfast and dinner are provided on the weekends.
Culture Week (Highly Recommended):
A Culture Week is the first step towards a great stay in a new country. It is designed so that you can understand the Nepalese culture. It is a fun-filled week that is dedicated to getting to know Nepal and some of its cultural aspects firsthand. You will also have time to meet the local people, taste the local cuisine and get familiar with Nepalese customs. Given its aim–learning about traditional rural Nepal culture, it is appropriate that this week takes place in Kathmandu. There are many opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture, including visits to local villages, touring temples, local fairs, and some amazing natural scenic sites that you can explore during your free time. Scroll down to see Additional Options.
If you would like to do some sightseeing and trekking, a fun trip can be added to your Nepal experience, or you can also discover new places independently. Nepal offers an impressive combination of nature and culture. Highlights include: