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A Peace Corps volunteer's inspirational story about the power of small change
In 2001, Peace Corps volunteer Rajeev Goyal was sent to Namje, a remote village in the eastern hills of Nepal. Brimming with idealism, he expected to find people living in conditions of misery and suffering; instead, he discovered a village full of happy, compassionate people. After organizing the villagers to build a water-pumping system in the midst of the dangerous Maoist war that had gripped the country, Goyal learned how complex rural development truly is. He also witnessed how the seemingly lowliest villager can hold profound power to influence not only his or her own village but also the highest rungs of government.
Years after this experience, Goyal applied the lessons he learned in Namje to his work on Capitol Hill. Approaching Congress as if it were a Nepalese caste system, Goyal led a grassroots campaign to double the size of the Peace Corps. His unique approach to advocacy included strategically positioning himself outside the men's room of the capitol building waiting for lawmakers to walk out. As a result of his determined bird-dogging, Goyal managed to make allies of more than a hundred members of Congress and in the process, he ruffled the feathers of some of the most powerful figures in Washington. But due to his efforts, the Peace Corps was granted a $60-million increase in funding, the largest dollar-amount increase in the organizations history.
On this path to victory Goyal endured a number of missteps along the way, and, as he reveals, his idealism at times faded into fear, anger, and frustration. In this honest and inspirational account of his life as an activist, Goyal offers daring ideas for how the Peace Corps and other organizations can be even more relevant to our rapidly changing world. He urges environmentalists, educators, farmers, artists, and designers to come together and contribute their talents. Filled with history, international politics, personal anecdotes, and colorful characters, The Springs of Namje is a unique and inspiring book about the power of small change.
From the Hardcover edition. "The role of a Peace Corps volunteer is subtle. We live in a community for two years, and usually we continue to stay in touch for years afterward. Most volunteers never build anything. Often we teach, and the value lies in human connections that can't be measured. And there's a strong tendency for Peace Corps volunteers to be humble about what we've done. Rajeev never would have told me about his work in Namje if I hadn't asked; other people described the remarkable water project he undertook as a volunteer." -Peter Hessler, from the foreword to The Springs of Namje "The Springs of Namje tells many stories, including, very movingly, how to try and effect real change in Washington D.C.--it's about idealism and savvy, and it shows how they can mix powerfully." -Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet "At a time when Washington is characterized by political gridlock, partisan bickering, and an ideological stalemate, Rajeev Goyal's inspiring story shows that one person can still bring about enormous change for good. His story also shows how programs like the Peace Corps provide a pipeline for the kind of leaders our nation hungers for: innovative, passionate, purpose-driven, and eager to contribute to a society of peace and justice at home and around the world." -Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D., Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics "Mr. Rajev Goyal has done a marvelous job in the book The Springs of Namje. He has artistically presented his experience while he was a peace corps volunteer in Nepal. The book illustrates how Rajeev built up strong human relations with the Nepalese people, and how he helped them in the best possible ways." -Anuradha Koirala, Founder and Chairperson of Maiti Nepal and 2010 CNN Hero of the Year "An honest and inspiring look at the hard work and reward of development efforts." - Booklist
Excerpts: From Chapter 2 Baitadi on Fire
Overhead a falcon hovered in a tight circle, peering at the strange new visitor below. The only sound I could hear was a faint whistling from the gentle Himalayan winds brushing against the sharp pine needles. A meaty smell filled my nostrils, which I would later learn was the odor of leopards, known to occasionally devour infants in Silanga village.
On a map Nepal was barely large enough to contain the letters of its name, but from Kathmandu it took us three full days to get to Baitadi, and now the driver was gone and I felt very alone. Holding my dented steel suitcase with both hands as if carrying a body, I followed the faded trail through the forest, hoping it would lead to my new home.
It seemed that before I could put my things down, they were being carried into the spare stone abode of Premraj Pant, the former village council head, who was known to all simply as Pradhan ji ( ji was a commonly used suffix of respect in Nepal), or "the chief." Silanga village was two lines of mud homes facing each other, with a walking trail in the middle, situated on a bright sunny ridge and surrounded on all sides by fading farming terraces.
Pradhan ji was a wiry, energetic man with a sharp nose and warm black eyes. He always wore a pressed white shirt and a vest, even when working in his cornfield, as if any moment a phone call might summon him back into political office. He had the personality of a pushy salesman, but I nonetheless took an instant liking to him and to his house.
One of my favorite pastimes became peering at the white Himalayas through the bright crimson leaves of the rhododendron tree just outside my window. The house had a second story where various agricultural tools, including a hoe, and a tall pile of desiccated blue corn seeds were stored.There was a spot in the roof where the clay tiles didn't quite meet and a beam of glittery light often shot through the length of the whole house.The cramped second story, which had a slanted roof, was where I liked to sit and read. I usually had my morning tea there.
I thought that in Baitadi I would have a solitary life, but people were always around. In fact, my house had a porous quality. Adjacent to the front door, one of the stones in the wall had been dislodged, and often I would see Pradhan ji's hand holding a cup of steaming tea. One night when I sneezed and rolled over in my bed, someone pushed a rag through the floorboards.
A few steps from my house was a chia pasal (tea shop), which had an unusually loud radio set that always faced in the direction of my room. Every morning I woke to the familiar patriotic Radio Nepal theme song and the sound of hot tea being poured as a sieve was tapped against a steel cup. Usually when I opened the door, a few old men were seated in the courtyard having tea and talking politics, and sometimes I sat in and listened. It was as if the courtyard of my house was an extension of the tea shop. But when I went for walks, I often found myself standing completely alone on a trail, no trace of life in any direction for miles.
Sri Siddhinath Middle School had approximately two hundred students in. My routine was teaching four English classes a day, in grades four through seven. The classrooms were made of stone and quite simple, without any teaching materials to speak of, but I found it wonderful to teach in this quiet setting. During the breaks, when I wasn't planning lessons, I sat in on the other teachers'...
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The book The Springs of Namje: A Ten-Year Journey from the Villages of Nepal to the Halls of Congress by Rajeev Goyal
(author) is published or distributed by Random House, Inc. [0807001767-BEEPB, 9780807001769-BEEPB].
This particular edition was published on or around 2012-9-11 date.
The Springs of Namje: A Ten-Year Journey from the Villages of Nepal to the Halls of Congress is available for use in eBook binding.
This book by Rajeev Goyal
is written in English language.
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