In this blog, I want to highlight the great work done by our Rukmini Foundation Mentor, Ritu Ap in Bigu, a remote village in Nepal. More than just summarizing the report, I want to write about connect the event to connectedness, perseverance and shared experience.
When asked about childhood dreams and aspirations, a civil rights leader in the US, John Lewis mentioned that he always wanted to be a preacher. Recalling his childhood years in the rural US, Mr. Lewis said with a great smile that he even attempted to baptize chickens. Interestingly, words apart in a remote village in Nepal, my brother and I were trying to teach a herd of buffaloes. We used to pretend to give great lectures and to conduct classes. Not surprisingly, I grew up to be a professor. As a people growing up in a village in Nepal or rural USA our aspirations are not that different. We are connected through our dreams and desires.
Being an educator, I am concerned about the learning environments of the students. Rity described a quite dire situation for Bigu students. Most students live with their grandparents as parents have moved away searching for better opportunities. These students do not have enough school supplies. More than just supplies, these students do not have many role models. We in the foundation believe that more than just distributing supplies, Ritu’s workshop provided examples of role models to these kids.
Closer to my home in California, a new report suggests that a great number of undergraduate students at California State University are homeless. Specifically, San Jose, a short distance from a tech-innovation center, Silicon Valley, has the largest number of homeless students in the state.
Whether a poor village of Bigu, Nepal or a rich Silicon Valley, US, students are connected through their struggle.
How do communities bounce back from great disasters? Ritu reported that Bigu, an epicenter of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, struggling to finds its footing after five long years. Long political strife, lack of economic development and finally a great disaster is little too much to handle for a small village of Bigu. As young people move away to find better opportunities, Bigu is left with the kids and the grandparents.
Again, bouncing back from a disaster is not unique to Bigu. Last year, in my home state of California, a city named Paradise was completely and utterly destroyed by a wildfire. Even the richest countries struggle to bounce back from these events. I think we need to develop a culture of empathy so that we do not view these events as singular isolated events that happen in faraway places. First steps towards creating solutions to these vexing and complex problems start with empathy.
Our shared experience guides us that we need to engage with students far and near. As I work with many homeless students in the US, I have Bigu students in my mind also. Thanks to Ritu for giving these students glimpses of happiness and possibilities. I hope we continue to engage with these students.