National Peace Corps Association Honors UN Nepali Diplomat Kul Gautam

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Born in a small village without running water or electricity, Gautam’s ties to the Peace Corps date back to 1962 when he showed great promise as a student.

Gautam, according to his official biography, “became good friends with several U.S. Peace Corps volunteers who were English language teachers at the school. He learned to play Scrabble with them and surprised them by often beating them – quite a feat for a Nepali 7th or 8th grader.”

Kul Chandra Gautam, a native of Nepal who rose from humble beginnings to become Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, has received the highest honor bestowed to a global leader by National Peace Corps Association (NPCA).

Currently chairman of the board of the anti-poverty non-profit RESULTS, Gautam accepted The Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award today at NPCA’s annual Peace Corps Connect conference in Shawnee, PA.

The award is named for the former U.S. Senator who was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps in 1961 as a special assistant to President Kennedy. NPCA is the largest non-profit organization representing Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

Born in a small village without running water or electricity, Gautam’s ties to the Peace Corps date back to 1962 when he attended a school in Tansen, about a three-day walk from home. According to his official biography, Gautam, an outstanding student, “became good friends with several U.S. Peace Corps volunteers who were English language teachers at the school. He learned to play Scrabble with them and surprised them by often beating them – quite a feat for a Nepali 7th or 8th grader.”

Recognizing Gautam’s talents, Peace Corps volunteers encouraged Gautam to seek a college scholarship in the United States. Gautam eventually graduated with degrees from Dartmouth College and Princeton University and then worked for UNICEF over three decades, rising to become Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations in the early 2000s.

After retiring from the UN, Gautam was briefly Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Nepal on International Affairs and the Peace Process. He continues informally to advise his country’s senior political and civil society leadership on the peace process, consolidation of democracy, human rights, and socio-economic development.

"I am thrilled and most grateful for this honor,” said Gautam. “My experience with the Peace Corps has been a source of great inspiration for me from my early student days in Nepal and throughout my long career with the United Nations in the service of the world's poor and disadvantaged, particularly women and children.”

The author of a new memoir “Global Citizen from Gulmi,” Gautam is donating proceeds from the book and the monetary component that accompanies the Harris Wofford award to a UNICEF-assisted girls’ education project in Nepal.

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