Home » »Testimonial» » Alastair Westwood

Alastair Westwood

Alastair Westwood

From 15/09/2009 to 01/11/2009

To some the idea of working in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal might seem a little like an exotic fairytale. After having discovered that through VIN it was indeed a possibility I instantly signed up for a 6 week placement in Nepal. After arriving it was immediately apparent that Nepal is a visually spectacular and emotionally overwhelming country with a huge amount to offer!

After having been given an initial ‘crash course’ in both Nepalese language and culture I was placed in a Buddhist Monastery outside Pharping approximately an hour and a half’s drive from Kathmandu. Once there, I found myself teaching English to monks ranging from the ages of 8 to 22. It was at this point that I begun to realise what a fantastic and enriching experience my visit would turn out to be.

During my stay in Nepal, I taught approximately 140 Buddhist monks in classes of about 40 often outdoors in a field next to the monastery. This was an incredible experience. When not teaching I would practice mediation and play football, frisbee and Bak Chal (Nepalese board game) with the Lopans (teachers) and my students. Every morning I was awoken without fail at 5am to the sounds of the monastery at Puja (prayer), which although strange and a little overwhelming at first is something I shall look back upon with fond memories.

However, the monastic life was only one aspect of my stay in Nepal. Working with VIN offered the opportunity to explore what Nepal has to offer with the other volunteers you work with. During my time, I visited places such as Bhaktapur and Patan, which have squares offering one the chance to see some of the ancient architecture and culture in Nepal. In addition, I went trekking in the Annapurna’s (Area of the Himalayas) where I saw some spectacular mountain scenery and local Nepalese village life and relaxed in the picturesque city of Pokora, which is on the shores of lake Phewa. Furthermore, I decided to seize the opportunity to do one of the highest bungee jumps in the world along with some canyoning and white water rafting! The rest of my time away from the monastery was spent with the other volunteers enjoying the many bars and restaurants found within the bustling (though highly touristy) streets of Tamel in Kathmandu.

Overall, Nepal is a country of spectacular beauty, striking poverty and opportunities to do something new everywhere you look. Working in a Buddhist monastery provides an incredible insight into Tibetan Buddhism and has allowed me to learn a great deal about the way monastic life really works. My time here has been truly fantastic and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Nepal really is a very special place.

Recent News


Children’s Summer Camp 2019

Volunteers Initiative Nepal focuses on the mental, physical, social development of the children. With an aim to protect the rights of the children, increase the access to quality education and basic health services...

July 18, 2019 Read More

Sponsorship Materials Distribution 2019

On 24th of June 2019, VIN distributed sponsorship material to 8 students in Jitpurphedi. VIN is committed to empowering children from disadvantaged background through sponsorship program under VIN’s Children’s...

June 27, 2019 Read More

Women’s involvement to run micro-credit project at Tarkeshwor Municipality -2 Dalkap, Kavresthali

To ensure economic freedom and independence for women through the establishment of a micro-credit system” is one of the objectives of VIN’s Women Empowerment Program.

June 3, 2019 Read More

Volunteer’s Monthly Meeting by VIN

Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) has been organizing Volunteer’s Monthly Meeting (VMM) on the second or the fourth week of every month.

May 1, 2019 Read More

ECD Painting, Decoration and Teaching

Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) has been conducting various projects under Children’s Development Program with the aim to protect the rights of all children in the community.

April 24, 2019 Read More

Public Health Medical Care Project in two communities of Kathmandu

VIN has been working in marginalized communities since 2007. It has been working to create healthy communities with public health and medical care program.

April 22, 2019 Read More