The University of Texas at Austin
  • Student travels to Nepal to teach young monks

    By Wunmi Bakare
    Published: Oct. 3, 2007
    Student

    On a quest to help the poor, Patrick Doody, an engineering graduate student, went on an adventure to Khatmandu, Nepal to teach English to children in training to become Buddhist monks. Working with nearly 20 children, Doody’s volunteer work this past summer was an adventure he says changed his life.

    “I have always wanted to go abroad and do some volunteer work,” Doody said. “In the course of the summer, I decided on Nepal because it is a third world country in dire need of volunteers.”

    The program in Nepal was made up of six students and two volunteer instructors. The students, like Doody, came from other developed countries such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

    “We were able to choose the type of volunteer work we wanted to do. I and another student chose to work with the children monks,” Doody said. “It was weird to see these children in training to be monks at such a young age. These kids were between the ages of five and 14.”

    Despite being the first westerner to go into the monastery, Doody found the children monks to be very receptive, he said.

    “These kids were amazing,” he said. “However, they come from very poor homes. Their parents send them to the monastery because they do not have the means to provide for them.”

    Doody said the poverty rate in Nepal is high and “with the changes in the government of Nepal, it seems like there are a lot of poor people.” Despite their hardships, Doody said, the people in Nepal are happy.

    “Of all the countries I have visited, the people of Nepal are one of the happiest I’ve met. The children love playing soccer and enjoy life despite their economic conditions. I learned so much from them,” he said.

    During his volunteer work, Doody became concerned with the electricity problem in Nepal.

    “I was almost got killed by low-hanging power lines while riding on top of a bus,” he said. “That was the best three-hour ride of my life because the scenery was breath-taking. However, it made me want to do something to solve the problem.”

    Doody, who is in the second year of his doctorate program, is tackling the issue by working on the problem of reliability and variability of wind power.

    “I came back from my trip motivated. I am determined to make a difference in my community, and hopefully, in Nepal.”

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