Mark Koenig

Mark Koenig (Collective Campaign for Peace – COCAP): Mark was born in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from the International School of Bern in Switzerland in 2000, he spent one year at Davidson College in North Carolina and then moved on to Johns Hopkins University where he received a bachelor's degree with honors in Political Science in 2004. While studying at Johns Hopkins, Mark completed internships with genomics researcher Craig Venter, US House Representative Chris Van Hollen, and in London with Lady Sylvia Hermon, a Member of Parliament from Northern Ireland. After graduation, Mark moved to Shenzhen, China where he lived for two years teaching English at Shenzhen Senior High School. At the time of his fellowship, Mark was studying at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston focusing on post-conflict reconstruction, law and development. After his fellowship, Mark wrote: “I think that perhaps it is my interest in and understanding of community level dynamics and activities that has developed the most while here. The significance of community level interactions and relationships as it pertains to the events that take place on a national level is an intriguing topic that this summer has given me new insight into.”

Goodbye Nepal

03 Sep

There are so many more articles, stories and profiles I want to write. There are too many scenes and sights I want to describe, and so many issues I want to discuss. I am afraid though I am going to have to find a new forum for all of these things as my time as an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow is coming to a close.

I left Nepalgunj on Sunday the 26th. SAC-Nepal and its staff threw me a wonderful going away party to say thank you for my help. I was touched by their kind words as hearing them say that I had contributed to their mission meant a lot to me. I often felt like I was not being helpful enough during the summer and that the situation limited my ability to really help COCAP in their work.

After saying our goodbyes I had another long day on a mini-bus shooting through Nepal. Watching the countryside and its people pass by from the window of the bus was a nice recap of what I have seen this summer. Despite its all its problems, Nepal, its scenery and its people have captivated me. On that bus heading through the hills I could not imagine a scenario in which I would not be back in Nepal some time in the future.

Back in Kathmandu my friends Tim and Lisa came for my last few days to see Kathmandu. While taking them around the city I revisited many of the beautiful places, crowded streets, colorful scenes that excited me so much when I first arrived. Throughout their visits I still found myself fascinated by everything around me.

On my final morning, Sunday the 2nd, I made my last trip to the COCAP office. Talking with the volunteers and staff one more time, I think I felt a little jealous that they would keep working to solve the problems I have been concentrating so hard on over the last few months. I want to help, I want to do more…but I have to remind myself that now is not the time. If this feeling is still strong inside of me in May when I finish my Masters Degree there will be more opportunities to work for Nepal.

Once more goodbye ceremony with the red tikka smeared all over my forehead, one more set of goodbyes and I was soon in a taxi to the airport. I reached the airport without advent, and my flight left right on time, which was about the same time that 3 bombs went off across Kathmandu. A reminder of the difficult path that lies ahead of the country, a reminder of how much more work needs to be done to promote peace and human rights. This terrible act of cruelty was certainly not perpetrated with me in mind (most likely it was perpetrated by a group either fighting for independence for the Terai region or a group wishing to delay the November elections) but it had a real effect on me. Once again I felt like I needed to return to Nepal and help in any way I can.

I cannot honestly say that I know what my future holds. Saying that I will be back in Nepal after graduation would just be hollow words at this point. I can say though that my time in Nepal has meant more to me than these words on this blog can express. I will carry this experience with me for a long time and I genuinely want to do more to help this country’s transition in some small way.
So goodbye for now Nepal…and good luck.

Posted By Mark Koenig

Posted Sep 3rd, 2007

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