Connections: From Nepal to Milford and back Far-flung friends find that it really is a small world after all
Tamara Chant (Photo by Marilyn Rosentha)
By Marilyn Rosenthal MILFORD — This is a story of connections — of people, of ideas turned into action, of learning, reaching out, and connecting again. It’s 2008 in NepalEnter Tamara Chant. Tamara Chant was trekking in the Himalayas after having spent 23 years in France. In Nepal, she came upon the Nepal Orphans Home (nepalorphanshome.org), a grassroots organization in the peaceful and beautiful Kathmandu Valley. Michael Hess, the extraordinary founder of this organization, has committed his life to providing food, shelter, clothing, health care, and education to more than 140 boys and girls in this valley. Papa, as Hess is called, started the orphans home in 2005, and his mission has always been to rescue children from abject poverty, abuse, unsafe employment, and, in some cases, indentured servitude. There is now a school and vocational training as well. Chant was so taken by this loving, nurturing place, an oasis for orphans and poor children of all ages whose parents could not provide for them, that she not only worked at the home as a volunteer, but has made more than ten visits back to be with “her children” at the home. In fact, Chant is currently on the board of the home and in constant communication with them. It’s December, 2016: Chant returns to Milford Though she grew up in Milford, and has always been known as Dave Chant’s daughter, she returns with a different persona. This sophisticated, empathetic, worldly woman was elected unanimously by the board of directors at safe Haven of Pike County to be their Executive Director, a position she currently holds. Back at the FauchereThe Mayor of Milford is connector extraordinaire. Milford Mayor Sean Strub likes nothing better than to connect people with similar interests and then sit back and watch amazing things happen. As it turns out, the Fauchere, a member of the prestigious Relais and Chateaux International hotel group, is a recipient of the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program sponsored by the U.S. State Department, where international visitors come to the U.S. for 12 months to hone their skills, connect with Americans, and learn about our culture. The J-1 Visa ProgramXavier Morales heads the program at the Fauchere. Xavier Morales, the maître d’ hotel at the Fauchere, is perhaps the perfect person to be in charge of the interns in the J-1 program at the Fauchere because of his extensive international experience in business and the hospitality industry. Morales points out that though they are referred to as interns, many of these young people already have professional experience and degrees when they come here to partake in our culture, and share theirs. Xavier is quite sensitive to their different cultural approaches and introduces them to some of the differences in the American hospitality industry. For example, in Americans tend to drink more in restaurants compared to Europeans, and here the wait staff needs to get to know the diners more and sell more. Also, in Europe and elsewhere, the hospitality industry is more of a profession, a craft, and often a family enterprise, whereas in the US wait staff tend to be just doing it on a short-term basis to pay for expenses or college tuition. The intern from NepalMadan Khanal becomes friends with Tamara Chant. Madan Khanal came to the Fauchere’s J-1 Visa program after working at the Disneyland Paris Hotel. He already had a graduate degree in Hospitality and was a perfect fit for the Fauchere. And also, a perfect fit for a friendship with Tamara Chant (now connected through Strub and Morales). These kindred spirits communicated with each other about their love for Nepal in both French and English. Madan returns to NepalAfter his one year in the J-1 program, Madan returned to Nepal and is now the Operations Manager at the Residency Hotel Academy in central Kathmandu, in a five-acre oasis housed with the premises of the Park Village Hotel. It is the only on-premises hotel academy in Nepal. The academy believes in learning by doing and they aim to produce a highly skilled work force which feeds into the best hotels in the tourism and hospitality industry worldwide. The circle closesChant connects Madan with the home. Through the wonders of the Internet and global communication, Chant connects Madan with the orphans home, and he selects eight young people from their Hotel Management program to join the apprenticeship program at the Residency Hotel Academy. Madan is now a citizen ambassador for the J-1 program at the Fauchere. He will stay connected to the Nepal Orphan’s Home and with his friends in Milford, especially with Chant. He will recommend the stars of his program in Nepal to apply for the J-1 program so they, too, can benefit from this excellent cultural exchange and professional opportunity. And the circle of outreach continues providing growth and hope for all.