A Peace Corps veteran recounts his experiences in a small Nepalese village.
Goyal, a lawyer, activist and specialist in rural development, narrates his life journey since he arrived in the town of Namje in 2001, discussing the projects in which he was involved and the skills he needed to acquire to become an effective volunteer and teacher in the village, where school-age girls carried water up the mountain from its source. Realizing that he had “to do something about this water crisis” so the children could come to school, he worked on solving the problem with the Peace Corps’ help. Recruited by villagers who had heard of his success at law school in the United States, Goyal returned in 2004 to build three schools. When he returned to the U.S. in 2008, he was hired as a lobbyist to work on doubling the Peace Corps budget. In addition to discussing his projects, the author examines similarities between Nepal and the U.S.; in both countries, he writes, “politics is not all that different from community organizing.” Congress became his village as he sought out how to get “directly to the highest power,” by catching congressmen and senators in corridors, “strategic loitering,” networking and using social media to mobilize citizen support. Goyal puts into sharp relief the Peace Corps’ funding within the total U.S. budget, and he punctuates his tale with instances of unfulfilled promises and unforeseen circumstances.
An interesting adventure with a good lesson: that having lots of money is not a prerequisite to accomplishing great things.