You may recall that our Program Manager, Nabin wrote an article about a great program called SAYS (South Asia Youth Summit), which is a USAID supported program where students from South Asian countries like Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal get an opportunity to visit United States to learn various skills. (South Asia Youth Summit) that brings young people from South Asian countries to the US as part of a cultural exchange, education, and leadership program.  This three week long program is held in Pittsburgh and Washington DC. An organization called Amizade hosts that program in Pittsburgh.


Pratik was a very polite young man and a great credit to our village in Nepal

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a program organized by Amizade foundation in Pittsburgh.  At the end of their two weeks stay in Pittsburgh, Amizade organized a program to sum up the activities and experiences of the students. Host families of the participants, members of the organizations and other people directly or indirectly involved at the program were present. Delegates from Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka presented a cultural program on the traditional dresses and customs, music, dance and poetry. At the end, each team presented a program, called a Community Action Plan, they were going to implement in their respective countries. They cordially thanked their host families for their love and support during their two week stay. The attachment between the families and the children from foreign countries was overwhelming.

I had a big reason to be happy to attend that program. It was one of the delegates from Nepal – Pratik Basnet.

Meeting Pratik was so exciting for me due to so many reasons.  First of all, he came from the same village where I lived. Our family knew each other very well. He is the first student selected from our village for such a program. His father was my student when I was a teacher. Now he is a teacher at the same school.

Above all, he is from the same school Shikharapur Community School which was started by my family. It is the school where most of the Rukmini scholars are attending. His nomination can be an inspiration to other students in the school including our Rukmini scholars. His selection has been a matter of pride for the whole community.

It was a nice program where cheerful students of Maldives, Nepal and Sri lanka were

Engaging themselves in conversation with each other and their host families. They were all dressed up in traditional dresses. He was pleasantly surprised when we introduced ourselves. He had no idea that someone from his village will show up at the program.  I felt very happy to see a fellow villager, a child from the same village representing Nepal team.


Pratik and Team Nepal performing a traditional Nepali dance. Here, Pratik is playing a Damphu, a traditional Nepali drum. Pratik said later that practicing and performing this dance was the first time he had danced.

It was a joyous experience to watch the presentation of the delegates on the lessons they learned in the USA and their plan to implement such programs in their respective communities.  It appeared to me that they learned about the need to preserve the environment. Most of the delegates had programs on saving the environment by reducing the use of plastics, making more green spaces.

Thanks to the United States government for such programs for the students from under developed countries who can play a vital role in spreading awareness on preserving the environment, from being a passive individuals to a knowledgeable leaders.

Laxmi Aryal

About Laxmi Aryal

Laxmi was the first female in her family to receive an education. While the education she received was limited, she was able to make the best of it and became the first person from her family and village to complete high school, undergraduate studies and eventually a Masters degree. She eventually earned a Masters Degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Public Policy. Hers is an inspirational story that the Rukmini Foundation hopes to replicate. She serves as an inspiration for the foundation and its leadership.
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