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Matthew Riddle

Matthew Riddle

From 15/07/2012 to 12/08/2012

I had a wonderful experience working with VIN and teaching English at the monastery in Boudha. Before I even came to Nepal I had pretty extensive email contact with Bhupi which really provided a good level of trust and support before arriving. During the induction period there was a really nice balance between training and free time which was a good way to really get to know not only the VIN staff but also the other volunteers from all over the world. This was one of the most special experiences. VIN seems to attract a certain type of person and to meet people similar to myself, interested and passionate about similar things, to meet people like this from all over the world was great. It gave me a sense of hope that the world is indeed inhabited by people who care and are trying to make a positive difference. The training itself was helpful to prepare for teaching English but I definitely had to supplement what I learned with my own creativity in the classroom. It was also really nice to go on the weekend trips to Chitwan and Nagarkot, not only to see more of the country but to keep in contact and deepen the relationships with the other volunteers and VIN staff.

Being in the monastery was a great experience.   I was the first volunteer at my particular monastery in Boudha so this was a unique experience for the monks as well as me. The monks really opened the doors of the monastery and their hearts; they were very welcoming and generous. I was really humbled at how hard working and eager to learn they were. I was also very surprised at the level of proficiency in English of many of the monks. In the classroom they were very diligent and a few students came to me during the evening for extra help and learning. However, the learning in the classroom extended beyond the walls of the room and really the whole time was a mutual exchange of knowledge which was beneficial for all. The monks were eager to learn more English as I was eager to learn more about Buddhism so the exchange worked for us all. I also helped a few of the monks with playing guitar and other things.

I really made some wonderful relationships with many of the monks and created some genuine friendships. On days when there was no class the monks were excited to take me on ‘tours’ of the surrounding area and share their culture with me. Over the course of my four weeks at the monastery I really found myself feeling very much ‘at home’ in the monastery with the monks. In the end it was hard to say goodbye and to leave my 90 new brothers and friends. The principal of the monastery told me the night before I left very sincerely that I am always welcome in the monastery and that I am just as much a part of the community now as the monks. Needless to say that was really nice to hear.

In leaving all the monks asked when I would be coming back. It seems they are waiting for me to return. Between my experience in the monastery and my experience working with VIN I have really fallen in love with this country by falling in love with the people. In meeting and working with people from all over the world I feel more a citizen of a universal community and I am excited to hopefully return to Nepal in the future to continue to cultivate the seeds that were planted during this journey.

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