Maggie Doyne Visits Peck

Posted: December 6, 2011

In 2008, The Peck School selected Maggie Doyne as the recipient of its Community Service Award to recognize work with orphaned children in Nepal; ever since, Peck faculty and students have enjoyed an ongoing friendship with Ms. Doyne and the chance to help her make a difference in the world. Epitomizing Peck’s dearly-held value of “consideration of others,” Ms. Doyne serves as a role model and an inspiration to many of us here at Peck.

Mendham-native Maggie Doyne began her mission while traveling in Nepal following her senior year of high school. Near the Himalayas, she was struck by the war-torn and poverty-stricken conditions lived by hundreds of orphan children—and decided to do something about it. She founded the Kopila Valley Children’s Home in the village of Surkhet, about 112 miles from Kathmandu; built brick-by-brick, by Ms. Doyne and the local community, to provide a safe home for orphaned children. There are now about 40 children living—and thriving—in the home, with over 20 dedicated Nepali faculty and staff. Another 250 children enjoy the community’s newly built Kopila Valley Primary School, also dreamed and built by Maggie Doyne and Kopila Valley volunteers.

Today, students and faculty at Peck are building reciprocal relationships with the Kopila Valley Primary School to develop initiatives that benefit Ms. Doyne’s mission and her Nepalese students, while also enriching the lives of our own. Lower School Director Nina Sharma and Technology Coordinator Suzanne Becker traveled to Nepal in March 2010, beginning a reciprocal exchange process between Peck and Kopila Valley faculty. The Peck School looks forward to welcoming Kopila teachers to our school later this school year.

Ms. Doyne returned to the United States to be recognized by Glamor Magazine as one of their “21 Amazing Young Women of the Year," and made time in her short visit for a day with Peck students.

The Eighth grade had Ms. Doyne all to themselves at a special luncheon in Lindenwold Library. The library was filled with chatter, laughter, and numerous questions, as Ms. Doyne gave updates on her progress with the Home and Primary School, and her work and life in general. Students were interested in why and how Ms. Doyne decided to begin such an incredible journey, especially as she was a recently-graduated high school student! They also asked about the curriculum at the Kopila Valley Primary School; what she taught, was it in English (yes), and how studies are structured. She also taught the Eighth graders how to say, "How are you?" in Nepalese and what is the proper greeting between a student and teacher.

Following the luncheon, Maggie Doyne stopped by the Fourth Grade classroom for a quick talk. The Fourth Graders, who had just recently been reading the latest entries on Ms. Doyne’s blog, were completely unaware that they were about to get a special visitor. Their gasps of surprise and amazement brought smiles to teachers and students alike as she entered the classroom.

Ms. Doyne talked about her life, her work, and her experiences in Nepal, and then answered questions. Students asked her about Halloween (since she had just celebrated it with her kids for the first time), and a number of other questions such as: “If you had a million dollars to build another school what would you do?” (She would build a school just like Peck.) And, “If you could take your kids anywhere in the world where would you take them?” (The ocean, because Nepal is landlocked and none of the kids have ever seen the ocean.) Ms. Doyne also told stories about the first time her kids had seen a light bulb; they turned it on and off all day, and then asked her how she had “captured the sun.” She also reminisced about a time when she gave each of her kids a toothbrush for the first time, and they walked around all day brushing their teeth “because it felt so good!”

The Fourth Grade students, many of whom asked for her autograph, pronounced Maggie Doyne “[their] Rock star”, in tribute to Peck’s InDeCoRe “ROCK ON” (Reach Out and Connect in Kindness, as an ONgoing process) initiative this year. The students are planning to include her name on our ROCK ON Board of Acknowledgement in the Olney Dining Hall.

Ms Doyne stayed and joined students for Peck’s annual all-school Thanksgiving Assembly, a celebration of the holiday, family, and together-ness just before students are dismissed for Thanksgiving break.

Learn more about Maggie Doyne, BlinkNow, and the Kopila Valley Children's Home and School at blinknow.org.

Read the New York Times Magazine story, “D.I.Y. Foreign Aid Revolution” about Maggie Doyne and other young women like her who have made a difference in the world.

Click here for a photo gallery of Maggie Doyne's visit to Peck.