Social & Environmental Pioneers


Location: Kathmandu, Nepal
Lat/Long: 27° 43′ 19″ N / 85° 21′ 33″ E
Weather Conditions: 60F (16C) Mist


Aaron Doering

We are exhausted! After a great last day in Pokhara, we were again up early and made our way back to Kathmandu. We were fortunate as many flights were cancelled today due to weather. Those whose flights were cancelled had to take a 6-hour bus ride from Pokhara to Kathmandu. We were thankful the clouds cleared for us and allowed our plane to take off!

After the short 25-minute flight, we arrived in Kathmandu, made a quick stop at our hotel, and then jumped back into a taxi to go and meet with Dr. Mahabir Pun. Mahabir is a true pioneer and inspiration for social change. He had a vision to bring the Internet and computers to remote villages throughout Nepal to make a change in education and quality of life of the village people. He began with building computers from scrapped parts that were donated to the school in Nangi, literally turning items such as a normal household router into a line-of-sight means of communication to beam the Internet from Pokhara to Nangi. As Charlie said, “He is the Steve Jobs of Nepal. When people said it couldn’t be done, he worked on it for years to make it happen. Second, when it comes to the computers and the Internet, people in the villages didn’t know what they were. He made people want what they didn’t even know existed.” We will describe our interview with Mahabir in more detail in our full update tomorrow. It was simply amazing and an honor to sit down with a person who has received the equivalent of the Asia Nobel Prize.

From our meeting with Mahabir, we took again to the crazy roads of Kathmandu to travel to the home of a University of Minnesota alum, Mr. Bimal Chapagain. As Bimal lives on the outskirts of Kathmandu, we were afforded yet another perspective of the city, and it was beautiful. Bimal and his wife, Ima Chapagain, invited us into their home where we had a wonderful meal and learned about Bimal’s work in public health around the world. From Afghanistan to the South Sudan, he has transformed the health and lives of many by bringing health services to these remote regions. As you will learn in the full update, his perspectives on education and sustainability are a perfect addition to this expedition.

While at Bimal and Ima’s home, we skyped with Mr. Chris Ripken’s classroom in Centennial High School in Circle Pines, Minnesota. Chris’s students asked us questions about the culture and geography of Nepal, and it was great to have Bimal be able to answer questions from his own unique perspective, as a person who grew up in a village in eastern Nepal, has lived around the world, was educated in Nepal and Minnesota, and has had a major impact around the world.

A big thank you to everyone throughout Nepal who has opened their homes and shared their stories with our expedition. Stay tuned for the full update tomorrow!


Charlie waiting in line at the airline counter in Pokhara.
Flying into Kathmandu from Pokhara.
Charlie arriving from Pokhara in Kathmandu on Buddha Air.

Our gear arriving from Pokhara in Kathmandu.
Bamboo lines the street in Kathmandu.
Tourist shops line the crowded streets in Thamel area of Kathmandu.

Aaron with a member of the Nepal Police during a Bollywood shoot.
Residents line the streets and walkways to catch a glimpse of the Bollywood shoot.
Aaron and Mahabir Pun looking through the Earthducation site.

Charlie, Aaron, and Mahabir Pun discussing his amazing work in Nepal.
Mahabir Pun was inducted into the 2014 Internet Hall of Fame for his pioneering work in Nepal.
BMahabir Pun, an award-winning social and environmental entrepreneur in Nepal.

On the insanely crowded streets of Thamel.
Bimal Chapagian's (UMN alum) beautiful home on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
Aaron, Bimal Chapagian (UMN alum), and Charlie in Bimal's garden.

Stunning sunset from Bimal Chapagian's rooftop deck.
Bimal Chapagian (UMN alum), an international public health consultant in Nepal.
Bimal, Aaron, and Charlie Skyping from Nepal with Chris Ripken's class in Minnesota.

Chris Ripken's class in Minnesota skyping with Aaron and Charlie in Nepal.
Matthew capturing an Earthducation interview with Bimal in his Nepal home.

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