Boudha, Nepal is a special place. It’s considered one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu. The ancient Buddhist stupa of Bouda (also called Boudhnath) is one of the largest in the world. The region is also home to a growing population of Tibetan refugees who have built over 50 monasteries throughout the region. Boudha is a center of enlightenment, pilgrimage, and prayer, made all the more mystical by its proximity to the mighty Himalayas. According to The Lonely Planet, “this is one of the few places in the world where Tibetan culture is accessible, vibrant, and unfettered.” Interestingly, Boudha and Lhasa have always been linked by trade routes, so today’s intercultural community is no surprise. Boudha is a vibrant and culturally rich city but many of its residents have never had access to formal schooling. Enter: Vajrayana School.
When I was 17, fresh out of high school and raring to go, Costa Rica was just one of about 50 different countries I wanted to visit. I grew up in a privileged suburb of Boston and was expected to head off to college alongside the rest of my graduating class. At the time, it wasn’t quite as fashionable to spend a year abroad. It was the kind of choice kids made who hadn’t applied to college, couldn’t pay for it, or otherwise didn’t have much direction. Even though I lived in a fancy suburb, my family had fallen on some tough times and I suddenly found myself in the “couldn’t pay for it” college category. I look back now and can’t understand how anyone pays for college but at the time it was a real blow. After busting my hump for four years with a singular focus—making high honor roll every semester, doing a bazillion extra-curriculars, and then getting into my top choice school—I was piping mad that money was holding me back. I was completely unable to put my situation in perspective. Never mind the millions of children in the world who get zero education, I deserved college. It was my right!