SIT Nepal Fall 2017 Symposium of Student Research

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Thanks to the incredible educational opportunities I had abroad — Italy, The US, The UK and Australia — and an equally incredible international teaching career in 10 different country, I can say that I am a life-long learner.

Always looking for opportunities to learn something new, I accepted the invitation to attend the Dec. 11 and 12, 2017 School for International Training (SIT) Fall 2017 Symposium of Student Research on Dec. 11 and 12, 2017. (I couldn’t attend the presentations last May, the first time I was invited. I had injured my ankle the day before at ultimate frisbee, confining me to within the walls of my house!)

SIT Nepal is a semester-abroad study program for US undergraduate students. The focus of the semester is on Tibetan and Himalayan people. At the symposium, students presented the details and results of their Independent Study Projects (ISPs).

Here’s the program for a flavor for the range of research topics the students tackled.

Of course, North-American undergraduate students doing research is really nothing exceptional. I did research too as a student at Grinnell College. As a matter of fact, I did two summers and a semester of research on Electrochemistry! My Organic Chemistry professor trusted and believed in me sufficiently to take me under his wings to do research for him my first summer in the US, i.e. after my first year as a Grinnell student! My advisor let me continue with that research for another summer and a semester. Some time after graduating from Grinnell College, my professor informed me that the article he had written, incorporating some of my own findings, had been published in a journal.

What’s more, even as an IB student at the United World College of Adriatic, as part of the academic requirements, I carried out an independent study and wrote up and submitted a 5K-word report. My topic even then had been one in Chemistry!

What surprised me by the symposium was the fact that only small number of locals were present. As far as I could tell, no local academics and local college and university students were on hand. I asked the Academic Director about that. She told me that they have always kept it small because that’s how it’s always been. But that if institutions in Kathmandu requested participation they would be open to them bringing students to the symposium!

SIT has been running programs in the country for years! I know it was running when I was myself a student at Grinnell College in the early nineties. I know because a friend of mine participated in it in the Spring of 1993, when I did my study abroad program in the UK!

What I am surprised by is the fact that NO local institution appeared to have learned of SIT and their programs and availed their students of this opportunity to learn about research and independent projects from American College students of their age.

In a country where Master’s Degree students basically “fulfill” their thesis requirement by buying them off of vendors, like the bookshop next to the University, the symposium, apart from providing a great deal of information about the country itself and about a subculture (Tibetan), it could also be inspirational to many undergraduate college students in Kathmandu!

I learned a great deal! I learned about Nepali women stand-up comedians, for example, one of whom, Shailee Basnet, I saw recently at Tangalwood. And she was funny! I learned much so that, as a matter of fact, I shall be attending the Spring Symposium in May 2018! If you are a college student or a professor at a college, you should get your school to take you to them!



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