Expanding Community Development through Study Abroad
Written By: Zoe Mayhew, IVS Alum
Meet Bipin Lama: Study Abroad in Nepal
I first met Bipin Lama in person at the Kathmandu airport after a brutal day of travel from the States. Bipin, the Nepal program manager for the Institute for Village Studies (IVS), would help our group of 12 students navigate the Nepalese roads, culture, and communities while studying abroad. Ultimately, Bipin did much more than that. He proved to be an indispensable liaison between our relatively homogeneous group of Westerners and the diverse communities we encountered throughout rural and urban Nepal.
Bipin’s ability to bridge and integrate our respective cultures--plus his boisterous, fun-loving personality--had a profound effect on my experience in Nepal.
A Natural Leader
From that first day at the airport when he quickly grabbed our bags and maneuvered us through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of people; to a quiet monastery in Kathmandu where we got over our jet lag and explored the sites in Nepal’s capital city; to his home village of Gatlang where we stayed at his family’s guest house, took language classes and helped move debris from the devastating earthquake in 2015, Bipin emerged as a natural leader and guide...and friend. He quickly became a favorite among students as we figured out how to navigate the diverse landscape of Nepal.
Study Abroad From Nepal to Vietnam
I was delighted to learn that Bipin will have the opportunity to share this ability to build relationships across cultures on IVS’s trip to Vietnam next month. Although Bipin has rarely, if ever, traveled outside of Nepal, his ability to transcend geographic and cultural borders should be a tremendous asset in this and future travels abroad.
In Vietnam, Bipin will join students and professionals from Vietnam, the United States, and Japan. Together we will learn about sustainable, community-driven development initiatives as we visit different sites in central Vietnam. This is the first step of IVS’s long-term goal to create global networks not only between the U.S. and communities abroad but between and across these communities themselves. I am hopeful this collaboration will generate opportunities for other stakeholders in Asia and lead to creative solutions to support community-driven development.
This fusion of people and cultures is an example that sets IVS apart from other study abroad programs, and why I have chosen to travel with IVS on multiple trips.
As I prepare to leave, I wonder if Bipin’s innate charisma and talent will bring people together on our trip? Who knows, but I can’t wait to find out.
If you are interested in meeting and working with Bipin, learn more about the Institute for Village Studies’ trip to Nepal in Fall 2019.