Naresh Shrestha

Naresh Shrestha, Founder of Insight Nepal

What position do you hold at Insight Nepal? What has been your career path so far?

Naresh: I am the founder and Program Coordinator of Insight Nepal. I started my career as a Nepali Language and Cross-Cultural Trainer with the American Peace Corps Training program in 1980. It was my first professional experience in the international community. I also worked for VSO, SNV and some German volunteer training projects until 1985. From 1986 to 1991, I worked as a Language and CC Trainer at the School for International Training (SIT), which runs college semester program in Nepal for U.S.-based students. Besides language training, I had various responsibilities in which I would prepare language materials and organize homestays, to support students in their individual study projects in rural areas of Nepal.

After exposure to international volunteering and cross-cultural activities, I built up my self-confidence to start Insight Nepal, a volunteer project, in 1992. I aim to provide volunteers with a deeper understanding of cultural differences and experiential learning in Nepal.

Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Naresh: In 1994, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Canada for a period of 3 months through an organization known as 'Canadian Crossroads International'. This was my first trip abroad and all the costs were sponsored by the organization. My placement was in Vancouver, where I worked in two different projects.

After providing my services for several years with the international volunteers in Nepal, I learned a lot about the people with different cultural backgrounds in developed countries. This inspired and encouraged me to see a different part of the world and its people. I wanted to feel and experience on my own. Finally, my dream came true. Although it was only a short period of volunteering in Canada, this was an eye opening experience for me as I had the opportunity to meet multicultural people and see a land of higher science and technology. It was a milestone for my professional career.

What does the future hold for Insight Nepal – any exciting new programs to share?

Naresh: Insight Nepal has been organizing placements for international volunteers at many schools and some community development projects in fields such as teaching English, child care and office management (primarily in urban areas). Since Nepal is an underdeveloped country with limited manpower and resources, there is big potential for employment in environment, agriculture, health care, tourism, and women empowerment in the rural areas. Insight Nepal plans to identify a variety of sector in which volunteers can aid in rural and urban communities.

Recently Insight Nepal started a partnership with an organization based in a remote village in the mountains. Through this partnership, we are planning to support that particular village by providing a group of volunteers that have varying skills and experience. These volunteers will be engaged in different areas of work for a certain period of time. We believe that it will bring positive change in the lives of the community’s people and will be role model for the volunteering industry.

What about the future of the industry? How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next ten years?

Naresh: Nepal is becoming a popular destination for international volunteers. When Insight Nepal was established I knew of only 5 to 7 local volunteer organizations in the private sector in Nepal. Now there are probably thousands of such organizations working in this industry. Since Nepal is a country with a diverse geographical and multicultural environment, along with many ultimate adventures, it has been attracting many tourists and volunteers from all around the world. In the next ten years I foresee:

  • Increased interest in volunteering abroad across the globe
  • An increase in volunteer organizations: There will be many more such organizations like Insight Nepal to cater to the increasing demand.
  • Quality control caution: However, as the number of such volunteer organizations increase, the volunteers will have to be more cautious on selecting a particular organization.
  • Easier communication: The Internet and media will make it easier and faster for volunteers, volunteer organizations and beneficiary organizations to communicate with each other.
  • Increased awareness on volunteering: More social sector organizations will understand the value of having volunteers. Volunteers will play more important roles in these organizations.
  • Increased demand for volunteers: The need for volunteers will expand from the usual functions like teaching, training and admin works. For example, organizations may ask for volunteers with specific skills such as photography, music and dance, science and research, pottery etc. Insight Nepal is planning to cater to these niches.