Synopses & Reviews
In 2001, Rajeev Goyal was sent to Namje, a remote village in Nepal. Brimming with hope and idealism, he expected to find people living in abject misery, but instead, he was greeted by villagers filled with humor and compassion. After organizing 500 villagers to build a water pump in Namje, he discovers how complicated rural development really is and what role a development worker should play. He learns how the seemingly lowest villagers hold profound power to influence not only their own villages but also the highest rungs of government.
The world has transformed since the Peace Corps was established in 1961, but Kennedy's brightest child has not. Does the Peace Corps still matter? How can the agency be fine-tuned to meet the challenges of climate change and other challenges affecting the planet? These are some of the questions which underpin this unique, deeply personal book. When Goyal is hired to lead a campaign to double the size of the Peace Corps in 2008, he approaches Congress like a Nepali village. Drawing on lessons from the villagers of Namje, he strategically positions himself outside the Men's Room of the Senate building and manages to make allies of hundreds of lawmakers. He also ruffles feathers with some of the most powerful figures in Washington including Valerie Jarret and Senator Patrick Leahy. At times, Goyal's idealism fades into fear, anger, frustration, and confusion, and this struggle is very much the subject of this honest and open account, which eschews and turns upside-down the traditional paradigm of Westerners saving the third world.
Goyal offers a daring new model for the Peace Corps, and other organizations and invites environmentalists, educators, farmers, and designers to come together. Filled with history, politics, personal anecdotes and colorful characters, this is a unique and inspiring book about the power of small change.
"In 2001, 52 days after a brutal mass murder decimated the Nepalese royal family, Goyal, an idealistic and deeply naÃ¯ve Peace Corps volunteer, arrived in the violently divided Himalayan nation, hoping to better the lives of the people in the remote villages to which he was assigned. Grand if vague ambitions soon stumble over the realities of Nepal in the early 21st century, from the way its entrenched caste system affects all aspects of life to the escalating civil war between the out-of-touch monarchy and the rest of the country. Determined to see the Peace Corps become an even greater force for good, in 2008, Goyal ventures into darkest Washington with every bit of the idealism and energy he demonstrated in Nepal and similar, inexplicable naÃ¯vetÃ©. In addition to relating his time in Nepal, this heartfelt account addresses his struggles with Washington's blinkered functionaries, doctrinaire reactionaries, and the frustrating Obama administration, though Goyal's apparent ignorance about the government of his own nation is baffling. However, despite setbacks and ambivalence about the changes he helped create in Nepal, Goyal remains a persuasive optimist about the effect a small group of highly motivated people can have on the world. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A Peace Corps volunteer’s inspirational story about the power of small change
In The Springs of Namje, former Peace Corps volunteer Rajeev Goyal reflects on what he learned from his experiences in Namje, a small village in eastern Nepal, and on Capitol Hill. He candidly considers what qualities constitute an effective activist, and he outlines how the Peace Corps and other organizations must evolve to better partner with local communities. With a focus on environmentalism and on bottom-up rather than top-down activism, Goyal argues that we can no longer rely on outdated models of foreign aid. And he shows how architects and designers, farmers and teachers, builders and environmentalists, and, especially, young Americans are in a unique position to contribute to this new world.
About the Author
Rajeev Goyal is a lawyer, activist, rural development worker, and former Peace Corps volunteer. Since 2008 he’s served as the national coordinator of the Push for Peace Corps campaign, which expanded federal Peace Corps funding by $60 million. Goyal partners with environmentalists, designers, and farmers to develop new sustainability initiatives and has worked with the UN Office for Human Rights in Kathmandu.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Peter Hessler
1) Royal Massacre
2) Baitadi on Fire
4) Saacho Khola
5) The Hats
6) The Last King of Nepal
8) American Idealists
9) The Hill
10) A Bold New Peace Corps
11) The Ice Cream Social
12) A Road to Namje
13) Sacred Hill
14) Why the Peace Corps Still Matters