In Wake of April 25 Earthquake, Peace Corps Nepal Suspended

The Peace Corps office in Washington, D.C., announced on April 29, 2015, that all Peace Corps volunteers and trainees would be “temporarily leaving Nepal and returning to the United States.”

Just before noon on Saturday, April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck with its epicenter in Gorkha district. You can get details on the earthquake from Wikipeddia’s article, April 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Anyhow, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for us. Facebook put in touch immediately with family and friends with its brilliant Safety Check but then tormented us with a endless stream of horrible news and troubling reports.

Langtang and Sindhupalchok districts were hit hard by the earthquake. The latter, however, served as the training site in the city of Chautara for the return of Peace Corps to Nepal from 2012 onwards. Many host families who had opened their homes to Peace Corps trainees were affected.

Peace Corps Nepal, officially online

Peace Corps Nepal has launched its own Web site,

There are currently 38 Volunteers in Nepal working in agriculture. During their service in Nepal, Volunteers learn to speak the local language of Nepalese. More than 3,675 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Nepal since the program was established in 1962.

It’s pretty good, and it has information for future volunteers (on expectations and more, including packing suggestions). I really like the FAQ, which includes this sound advice—for those of you reading this right now:

What to Expect
Each volunteer’s experience is different. Invitees can read volunteer blogs, listen to RPCV stories and search the internet about Peace Corps and Nepal; however, they should not expect to know many things until arriving in country. […]

You can connect with the program on its official Peace Corps/Nepal Facebook page.

A collection of Nepal PCV blogs

I hear the N/199 group is doing well at the PST in Chautara, Sindhupalchok district. Very exciting. I am following a few of the PCV blogs with what I will admit is mix of admiration and envy. I said never again, but ah, to do it all over again—wait! no, I wouldn’t. I mean, I would, but I don’t have to. Never mind, doesn’t matter. Now I armchair quarterback.

I wish them well in their service and experiences. I hope I get to read some crazy shit, like about drinking jar for breakfast during training. Nonsense!—and I loved every minute of it.

Photographs from my Peace Corps experience

I carried a box with me most places I went while a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal. Because we knew we could be evacuated from the country any day, when we would travel away from post it became normal to take with you anything that you wouldn’t want to leave behind. For me, that was a small box, smaller than a shoebox, that kept all my 35mm negatives.

After returning home, I sent that box of negatives to ScanCafe and a few weeks, received my negatives back with a couple DVDs with an intimidating amount of photographs to organize.

So (10!) years later, on my personal photography site, I’ve put up three collections of photographs from my Peace Corps experience.

In the experience, part 1, and part 2, I have collected what I remember in terms of photographs. And in the volunteers, I consider images I made of those I served with. The larger, unedited collection of my Peace Corps/Nepal photographs is on Flickr, too.

Peace Corps volunteers are returning to Nepal

Well, it’s official: Peace Corps is returning to Nepal. Here’s the official press release from Peace Corps, published January 10, 2012. There was also a nice article by VOA about Peace Corps returning to Nepal, Return of Peace Corps to Nepal.

I’m excited. Every time I’ve been back to Nepal since I completed my service in 2004, I’ve wondered, “How fun would it be if I could run in to a group of PCVs?” And I’ve never had that opportunity. And now it looks like I will.

In January 2012, I did a short interview with Dinesh Wagle of Kantipur about my Peace Corps experience—one personal experience in particular, actually. The article is in Nepali. If you can’t read Nepali, then enjoy the photographs. (I’m in the red shirt with the bald head.) Enjoy: Peace Corps returns to Nepal.

Peace Corps/Nepal suspended

After two bombs exploded at the American Center in Kathmandu, throwing shrapnel here and there, Peace Corps decided to suspend its program in Nepal.

This is the first time that Peace Corps has suspended its program in Nepal, which had run continuously for 42 years. That’s thousands of PCVs having served in Nepal and returned home to tell others of their experiences.

But, more importantly, what does this mean for our well loved staff of Peace Corps/Nepal? Much uncertainty, I’m sure. Very sad news indeed.

Peace Corps Suspends Program in Nepal

Washington, DC, September 13, 2004 — Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez today announced the suspension of the Peace Corps program in Nepal effective immediately.

The Peace Corps has had a successful 42-year program in Nepal, making great strides in the areas of small business development, education, environment, youth development and working on health and HIV/AIDS education and awareness. The safety and security of the volunteer is the number one priority of the Peace Corps and in light of the current conditions in Nepal, suspension of the program is a necessary action, said Peace Corps Director Vasquez.

Currently, Peace Corps volunteers are being consolidated.

The Peace Corps program in Nepal began in 1962. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in the East Asian country.

My group, Nepal 194, will become the last PCVs to COS in country. I hope that not too much times passes before another group of PCVs is able to have the Peace Corps experience in Nepal.

Looking back on my service, I realize how damn lucky I was. Everything finished according to plan. Fast forward to five months later, and PCVs are waiting around a five-star hotel in Kathmandu for boarding passes for flights to Thailand, where they will spend a week or so on their COS and debriefing, i.e., ending their service.

Well, maybe I wasn’t totally lucky. That is one adventure I never experienced.