Since my first weeks in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer (1994-96), I have been interested in the process of cross-cultural exchange. Perhaps too often, we are encouraged to see the world as an experience of dichotomies. East – West, Us – Them, Developed – Undeveloped, the list goes on and on.

The reality of Nepal’s situation, indeed, of any nation, is too broad to be understood at a distance. I won’t pretend that I understand Benchong or Nepal, but I hope that in this project, people from different cultures will find something in the details that that they can understand; that mean something to them. The conversations collected from the village are gifts. The video, the photos, the translated diaries and essays, everything that the people of Benchong shared with me is meant for all of us who want to understand. Every thought, every dream, every joy, every sorrow came from a real person of flesh and blood; I hope that the beauty and dignity of their lives are not tarnished either by my interpretation or presentation. The people of Benchong were incredibly open and patient with me, not because they had to, not even because they always wanted to, but because that is part of who they are. And, if Nepal might be understood through understanding a single village; why not the world? I am convinced, if more of the world were like the people of Benchong, we’d all be in a much better place today.

Finally, let me take a moment to acknowledge and thank many of the people that helped make this work possible: First, the people of Benchong - forever patient, frustrating, and friends; my field assistant, Arjun Kumar Rai; my longtime teacher, partner in translation, and text translator, Indra “Vilas” Akela; countless Nepali friends, not least, those who kept me out of jail, especially Tek Narayan Shrestha; Joe Elder, advisor, counselor, critic; Terri Wipperfurth, who should be thanked daily by the thousands; Gautama Vajracharya, unsung hero of Nepali studies at UW-Madison and a truly kind friend; my Mother and Father, my family, Annie, and friends in America for their support, the meaningful money-kind, and the more valuable spiritual-kind; and last, but not least, the United States Peace Corps, which set me on this path, quite miraculously, more than nine years ago, in 1994.

  Jeffrey Potter is graduate of NYU Film School and holds a Master's in Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal from 1994-96 and a Fulbright scholar to Nepal from 2001-2002. He has lived in Asia, including Nepal, for nearly five years. He currently lives with his fiance in Madison, WI where he works for an environmental NGO. He continues the Because we were born here project . . . and will return to the community in 2006.

If you're interested in supporting the project with donations or investment, please don't hesitate to contact the project director, Jeffrey Potter by email.