My name is Brodie Yyelland. I am a Solar Energy Project Manager, and Chair of the ELSE (Emerging Leaders for Solar Energy) Alberta chapter. Up until recently my work has been based in Calgary, Alberta, but a couple months ago I was offered an opportunity that I could not pass up. ELSE and SunFarmer teamed up to create a 2 month volunteer fellowship position in Nepal. The position entails traveling to Kathmandu, Nepal and assisting the SunFarmer team to develop “OffGridU,” an online platform intended to help share the knowledge and expertise needed for off-grid projects to be successful. For the next 2 months I will be updating this blog with posts, pictures and videos about my experience.
After running a gauntlet of preparation I’ve made it to Kathmandu. A wave of relief is rushing over me as a new set of adventures are just beginning. A quick tally of what I’ve just been through includes: Moving out of my apartment in Calgary and getting my possessions tucked away in storage, tying up and summarizing outstanding tasks at my work including about 8 ongoing solar projects and a mountain of inquiries, quotes and correspondences. With a big help from my ELSE Alberta board we pulled off our first solar event at the U of C and finished the week with attending the last day of the Solar West conference. There we were able to meet a bunch of the ELSE National board members and listened to Noel and Mike (Co-Chairs of ELSE) give a fantastic closing keynote speech which included some of the most inspiring and uplifting remarks I could have imagined about myself and our ELSE AB team.
Just 12 hours after those remarks I was waking up to begin my travels. 5 hour flight to Toronto, 13 hour flight to Abu Dhabi (which left me feeling very nostalgic being back in that part of the world again) and finally a 4 hour flight to Kathmandu. As we descended through darkness the faint and flickering lights of the city appeared, like twinkling stars giving me my first glimpse of why I have come here. It was a surreal introduction to intermittent/unreliable electricity, something that I have always taken for granted.
I secured my bags and after a quick taxi ride I was finally shaking the hand of Ivan, my SunFarmer associate and roommate for the next 7 weeks. He will have lots to show me over the coming days but I already feel like I’m in good hands.
As I lie here and watch our apartment lights flicker and die, it’s still hard to believe where I am and what I’m about to do. *Deep breath. Here we go…