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From 12/05/2008 to 11/08/2008

My experience volunteering in the Buddhist Monastery with VIN was an invaluable experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. From the logistical perspective, the actual monastery site is truly unique. The small mountain on which the monastery is located overlooks one of the holiest sites in Buddhism, and its overall views are of the most breathtaking I saw in Kathmandu. Even though Oselling is a small monastery, the volunteer accommodations were surprisingly up to Western standards, and the monks did everything possible to make me feel welcome and involved in their community. Even though I felt like I was living at a boys’ boarding school sometimes, I was surprised by how kind-hearted, and good natured I found the monks. They were lively, happy, playful, and often rowdy. Still, the never failing spiritual presence of Buddhism was deeply felt, and the monks’ commitment to their vows and their lifestyle was evident in everything from their daily everyday activities, to their general personalities and disposition. I feel honored to have lived with and spent time with these bright, charismatic, and spiritual monks. From the very young little boys, to the 20-something college monks, to the older, wiser spiritual leaders of the ‘gumpa’ I learned something from every person I interacted with, and as much as I taught them, they taught me.


While teaching monks who spoke very little English was often challenging, VIN’s support was invaluable in making my volunteer efforts a success and the willingness of its staff to go out of their way to ensure volunteers’ safety, comfort, and happiness, was very much appreciated. VIN’s grass-roots approach allowed me the freedom to tailor the experience to my needs and wants, and allowed me to get close to the locals—be it VIN volunteers, monks, or other Nepali people I befriended— in a way that would probably have been much more difficult in a more structured and large international organization. Overall, my experience was life changing in a very positive way, and I greatly appreciated VIN’s willingness to satisfy any concerns I had and ensure I had a positive and constructive experience.

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