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Dominic Jaume – The defiant career path

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Dominic Jaume – The defiant career path

To Nepal with VSO

So you took up teaching secondary English when you graduated, I asked him. A short laugh and a slightly embarrassed sideways glance.

“I went straight back to Spain; I had missed it. But it was a mistake, like going back often is. I tried to get a job in a school there but that didn’t work out and then I met a returned American Peace Corp volunteer and it brought back to me that I had once wanted to volunteer abroad through VSO. I was commitment-free and I realized that this was the perfect moment to return to that idea. When I did my degree in English and History I was insouciant about its worth beyond the intrinsic interest the course held. But without it, I wouldn’t have found myself in Nepal as a teacher trainer through the agency of VSO.

“When I did my degree in English and History I was insouciant about its worth beyond the intrinsic interest the course held. But without it, I wouldn’t have found myself in Nepal as a teacher trainer.”

I spent over three years in a village in the Himalayas – to date, the most extraordinary, fulfilling and joyful time of my life. The poverty I lived surrounded by was more than countered by the ebullience and zest for life of the wonderful Nepalis I lived and worked with. I learned their language and helped to build a library, founded a cricket team in my village of Trishuli and I trained teachers and visited them in their schools. Was privileged to trek in restricted zones and gasp through 5000m passes.I survived the Maoist insurgency. And I met my lovely wife who was working with VSO in Nepal, training midwives. VSO were extraordinary – they provided the logistical and health support and worked with local organisations to find placements. I was working for a Nepali organisation, not a foreign one, earning a local salary and my boss was a Nepali. I don’t know how much I put in but I know what I took out: I’ll never be the same again.”

Settling down at last?

Dominic isn’t a great archivist – I think he lives too much in the present keep a record of things – but I did manage to coax him into finding some pictures of his time in Nepal and they made me want to book the next flight to Katmandu. Nothing on Facebook? No, he can’t understand why people need the validation of others to know they are having a good time and he’s clearly quite a private person; even this interview seems to embarrass him slightly. But did he conform? Returning to England, he married Jo and finally settled into the job for which his qualifications seemed designed. So has he succumbed to the pressure of convention?

“Not really. I have been privileged to be the teacher of so many young people for the last seven years. To be given that trust by parents is a wonderful thing and I’m really grateful for it. But getting to that point has been a great ride and for the last seven years I have been exhorting my pupils to avoid seeing their education in utilitarian terms. You never know, I tell them, where your pathway will lead you; doctors can become comedians, architects distillers and Chinese language students rock stars, but if you don’t put things in place, your options shrink, so work hard and be bold. In my last year at uni, banks were coming in to recruit; I bet their recruits are richer than me now but I wonder if they have seen the things I have seen?”

“You never know, I tell them, where your pathway will lead you; doctors can become comedians, architects distillers and Chinese language students rock stars, but if you don’t put things in place, your options shrink, so work hard and be bold.”

Read more stories like Dominic’s here.

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