Students from Keene State College help build a cafe for a sustainable community in Nepal. Image: Keene State College.

The Granite State Cements Its Relationships with Nepal


Nepal, a small Asian country about the size of Iowa, has been attracting lots of attention in New Hampshire. Recently, students from Keene State College traveled there for two and a half weeks as part of the Morris-August Honors Program. The program was headed by Professor Renate Gebauer, who has taught a Global Engagement course on Nepal and studied environmental sustainability issues that affect the country. She was joined by her colleague Dr. Thomas Bassarear who had served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal 30 years prior. During the trip, the seven students who took the Global Engagement course traveled to Kathmandu, where they helped build a café in a sustainable community. They also visited the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and Tansen, where they participated in a week-long homestay.

Four volunteers from New Hampshire are currently in Nepal with the Peace Corps program, which makes New Hampshire the best represented state among Peace Corps volunteers there. While differing in age and background, all four share the common goal of learning as much as possible about their host country and doing what they can to help out the local communities they are living in for the next 15 months. Projects that they are in the process of working on include: a dental clinic, developing organic pest controls, and agricultural sustainability.

Nepal-New Hampshire ties flow in the other direction, as well. New Hampshire has a growing Nepalese population with its own community organization, which offers language classes to anybody interested. Nepalese students also make up an increasing proportion of foreign students studying in the United States. According to the Institute of International Education, Nepal is the 12th largest place of origin for foreign students studying abroad in the United States. In the 2011/2012 academic year 9,621 Nepalese students studied in the United States, the second highest number from South Asia.

Sarah Batiuk is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, DC.