When I graduated from high school, I was one of the first ones to do so from my entire extended family – of five brothers and over three dozen first cousins, more than a dozen of whom are older than me – and one of the very few from my community to do so from a private school.
When I graduated from UWCAD in 1990, I was the FIRST ONE from my entire community and probably one of the first ones from the entire Upper Mustang region to get a qualification from an educational institution in the West.
When I followed that up with an undergraduate degree from Grinnell College in the US, a teaching qualification from UNSW in Sydney, Australia, and subsequently with a career in international teaching, each one of those accomplishments, even individually, had been something no one in my community had ever even imagined possible!
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I know that my academic and professional accomplishments provided the impetus and drive to youngsters in my community to not only stay in school but also dream big! Until I had done it, owing to prevalent perceptions and beliefs within our community — which was further reinforced by the wider Nepalese society — further education in the West had never even appeared within the radar of the youngsters!
But now the pretty exclusive community of only seven-hundred or so Tangbetanis have doctors, engineers and other professionals, a number of them educated abroad. Many are still abroad, notably in the United States and Australia, some living and working as professionals, while still some others are pursuing tertiary education. This, in a community of people who, until just a little less than 30 years ago, hardly saw any reason or justification for–or future in–education!
Iju being at UWC Maastricht, for instance, I am sure, has transformed the way some of the young children in her community think about — and view — not only education but also their lot!
Last year, among the pool of finalists, along with Iju, was a girl belonging to a community of street sweepers in Bhaktapur with an amazing story of fortitude, perseverance, drive and motivation to become a role model, to become someone through education, instead of allowing birth to define her. Sweepers from the Newari community in the valley, I understand, belong to the lowest caste — they are one of the Newari Dalits. I was disappointed that we couldn’t send her to a UWC as well.
But one day, soon, I hope, the National Committee of Nepal sends a Dalit child! Can you imagine the impact of that on Nepalese Dalits as a whole?!
In short, as I see it, the challenge now is to create role models for other marginalized and poor communities and thereby transform them.
Through these fundraising drives to help finance the UWC education of the next generation of Nepalese youngsters from poor or low socio-economic backgrounds, i hope to do just that!
Follow the links below to go to a specific fundraiser page and to contribute!
- 2014 UWC Scholarship Fundraiser (which of course has ended).
- 2015 UWC Scholarship Fundraiser.
Thank you in advance!