College student Surya builds schools back home in Nepal

Some parents walked for six hours to find out about a radically new kind of school forming in rural Nepal, where children would receive education free of charge – in exchange for parents volunteering two days a month to help operate the school and the farm that sustains it.

Surya KarkiSurya Karki could relate to the long walk those parents took to the school he cofounded, Maya Universe Academy, the first free private school in Nepal. At 8 years old, he had trekked seven hours from his village to a bus that took him to the capital, Katmandu, where he wore shoes for the first time and studied on scholarships for the next eight years.

Mr. Karki’s educational journey eventually took him as far away as Venezuela and the United States. But his heart stayed in his Himalayan homeland. His mother, whose poverty prevented her from receiving an education, raised her son to always think beyond himself.

When his father left his mother, “She wanted to show … that even without a husband, she could do so much. She set out on a path to educate me,” says Karki, now 21 and attending College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. “When I left home, my mom told me, ‘You are not the only one who has got to be educated….’ The drive to show that my mom was right probably led me to this path, to serve those people that really need.”

Maya Universe Academy was born in 2011 out of the creative altruism of Karki and six other young people from all over the world who met in Katmandu.

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