"Peace Corps Supporting Nepal" Scott Skinner

Twenty American Peace Corps Volunteers, the first since the organization suspended its operations in Nepal in 2004, are back again. As this year marks the 50th anniversary since the Peace Corps arrived in Nepal in 1962, former Peace Corps Volunteer SCOTT SKINNER spoke to KESHAB POUDEL about his experiences and contributions in Nepal. Skinner served in Nepal between 1962 to L964 and visited the country frequently. Excerpts:

Dec. 21, 2018, 2:51 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.:06 No.-13 Dec.28-2012(Poush 13,2069)

Following a suspension of operations, the Peace Corps Volunteers program has started again. How do you look at this?

I am happy to know that after a few years of disruption, Peace Corps Volunteers arc back again in Nepal. This is great news. There are hundreds of former Peace Corps Volunteers who also share my feelings. As a large number of former Peace Corps arc lobbying for Nepal, the present of volunteers will be permanent ambassadors or lobbyists too. They will support in future for Nepal's development and prosperity.

What inspired you to join Peace Core and come to Nepal?

I was in my last year of college and I was in the office or the Dean where I saw the brochure of the Peace Corps Nepal in which I read about Nepal and Nepali people. When I read it, on the spur of the moment, I decided that I should go to Nepal. I had a little knowledge about Nepal because I also watched the documentary about US expedition of Mr. Everest. It had struck me was the beauty of Nepal.

What were your experiences in Nepal?

It was a very different city and Nepal was cut off from the rest of the world. It took us almost a week to land at Tribhuwan International Airport from Washington DC. It was very beautiful and organic city. Every house was surrounded by its own small green garden. It was incredibly beautiful place. I have a very strong memory of that. It was like a small medieval small village. I was stuck by incredible beauty and peacefulness. Kathmandu itself had almost no hotels. We were put in Royal hotel. Other Hotel is Yak and Yeti Hotel. There were almost no vehicles and most of the vehicles belonged w UN, diplomatic missions or government offices and some elites. You could safely ride bicycle even up to 13hakcapur.

Where did you serve as a Peace Corps volunteer?

I was placed in Chainpur of eastern region. After four days in Kathmandu, we flew to Biratnagr on the way to Chainpur. We took a jeep in Biratnagar to Dharan and we stayed a night there. Next day our journey to Chainpur began. Very early morning we got off and we walked toward Dhankuta. It was 8 hours long trip. We arrived in Dhankuta at dark. After two days walk, we reached Chainpur.

How do you see Chainpur now?

Chainpur looks more or less same. One of the reasons is that it is not a district headquarter as it moved to Khandbari during Panchayat days. Chainpur used to be one of the major strongholds of Nepali Congress Party.lt was punished for its support to Congress. Although people live in poverty, they were quite happy.

How about your family members?

My two sons and my wife Mart like Nepal very much. They are very strong walkers. They continue to maintain my connection with Nepal. My two sons have already visited Nepal and one of my younger son and his wife even went to Khumbu for trekking with me just a year ago. They also stayed a few days in Nache Village in Dhanlwta. They learned to live in a village with subsistence farming and no fancy food. That was very valuable village. My elder son has already visited Nepal twice.

How was Kathmandu when you first came to Nepal?

When I came to Kathmandu as third batch of Peace Corps Volunteers in 1965, Kathmandu was a very different city and Nepal was cut off from the rest of the world. I have very strong memory of that. It was a like a city of two hundred old. There were almost no vehicles and most of the vehicles belonged to UN, diplomatic missions or government offices and some elites. You could safely ride bicycle even up to Bhaktapur.

Where did you serve as a Peace Corps volunteer?

I was placed in Chainpur of eastern region. After four clays in Kathmandu, we flew to Biratnagar on the way to Chainpur. We took a jeep in Biratnagar to Dharan and we stayed a night there. Next day our journey to Chainpur began. Very early morning we got off and we walked toward Dhankuta. Next clay we hiked again and it took a three more days to reach Chainpur. We were accompanied by Mike, who was a Peace Core volunteer in Dhankuta for two years and stayed there for two more years. He was our guide to Chianpur.

How do you describe Chainpur?

Chainpur was a very beautiful Newar Village. There were many Shakya families, famous for brass utensils. It was very beautiful at same elevation as Kathmandu. It was quite a prosperous village producing a plenty of rice. There were some wealthy landowners who had land in Terai. Chainpur has not much changed as it is still an old and beautiful city there is now electricity and water tap but water is yet to be supplied to all.

How did you maintain your communications with your parents?

Oh! Don't talk about that. We had only one option for communication and that was to airmail letter. I had no communication from Chainpur with my family for two months. My parents did not speak to me for two years. There was Post office in Chainpur and postman was very good but they didn't have stamp. Because of this, my parents did not hear about me for two months. My parents called to State Department about my whereabouts. They l thought I was disappeared. After I airmailed a letter to Peace Corps Office and they then sent it to my home.

What different things do you notice now?

After we sent mail along with film, my parents were able to see me and my picture. Nepal was very cheaper and very friendly. Women were carrying Gagri (bucket) and people selling brass for foreigners. I like people Hat Bazar. I had no book to read and no other means of communication. Over fifty years, I have seen a number of changes in the world. Nepal is now open to the rest of the world but the people are same to me.

In case of emergency, we were supposed to visit nearby Army. People rarely complain about the hardships. Along with post, we could send message through wireless. Most of the young people of current generation in Nepal were not born when I first

What did you do in Chainpur?

It was a mountainous village with Newari dominations. I was a high school teacher. I was sent to teach English. I also enjoyed watching rice paddy, forest and people. I taught English in Sri Saraswali High School but I also taught at primary level. We taught mostly conversation and English. There were more holiday~ than the school day~. Some holidays were up to six weeks. In such long holidays, we used to go for trekking. I like Chainpur because Vermont is also similar to Nepal and it too has hilly terrain. People find English as difficult language. It was very difficult to learn.

How are you supporting Nepal now?

When I did a trip in 1997with my friend Patrick Biggam, we have set up a small foundation to support Nepal. It was an idea of Patrick Biggam to support Nepal in education. We have started forming PhuImaya Foundation. Patrick Biggam wanted contribute in education

How do you see Chainpur?

Chainpur looks more or less same. One of the reasons is that it is not a district headquarter as it moved to Khandbari during Panchayat days. Chainpur used to be one of the major strongholds of Nepali Congress Party. It was punishment for its support to Congress. Although people lived in poverty, they were quite happy. I had no radio and other means of communication.

What different things do you notice now?

Over fifty years, I have seen a number of changes in Nepal but the people are stiII the same to me as they are friendly. Most of the people are in Nepal new born after I first came to Nepal.

For Full Interview in PDF http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/spotlight/pdf/Spotlight_06_12.pdf

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