Asmod Khakurel ’24 had the unique opportunity to spend his summer working with children in his home country of Nepal through the Davis Projects for Peace, a global initiative that encourages college students to resolve conflicts and promote peace across the globe.
Khakurel received funding last spring for his proposal to build greenhouses in a rural region in Nepal. However, due to the unexpected second outbreak of COVID-19, he was forced to alter his initial proposal into something he could more effectively complete in person. He and his partner Laxman Bist, a current junior at Dartmouth College who is also from Nepal, eventually decided to establish a computer lab to teach young Nepali students different computational skills.
Additionally, Khakurel conducted a weeklong training program to teach young Nepali students how to manufacture gau arka (an antiseptic made from cow urine), as well as incense, insecticide, toothpaste and soap made out of cow dung. In both projects, Khakurel had two goals: to promote the preservation of native cow breeds by demonstrating their economical and ecological benefits, and to expose Nepali youth to various relevant computer skills like Microsoft Word and Powerpoint.
Khakurel and Bist spent around a month and a half working with the students at the local gurukula, a type of school that is free to attend for young students, who primarily come from rural areas that often lack roads and other forms of infrastructure. During that time, Khakurel and his partner never left the rural village they were working in.
In addition to teaching the students vital technological skills, Khakurel was also able to learn about the region’s culture by working with local spiritual and political leaders, as well as through exploring the nearby river and forest trails.
One major aspect of Khakurel’s project was to give these Nepali students the ability to pursue careers in the world outside of their rural upbringing. While the gurukula education offers a unique curriculum with exposure to topics like environmental conscientiousness, meditation, dancing and farming, the educational system does not include technical computer skills. Khakurel and Bist were also able to extend the impact of the project beyond their period of direct service by supplying students with novels.
Khakurel hopes to visit the many students he was able to impact when he returns to Nepal. “Being immersed in this environment and being able to help so many young students was a truly incredible experience,” he said.