Dear Rotarians, past and future Global Grant scholars, and friends,
I cannot express how deeply honored and privileged I feel to be the Global Grant scholar for 2015-16. Given my unlikely background, I consider myself especially blessed to write to you.
I grew up during a decade long civil war (1996-2006) in Nepal where I became both a witness and victim of violence. As a child, I narrowly escaped death more than once. As a teenager, I became a war refugee when the rebel forces shut down all the local schools in my hometown of Chitwan. My family was forced to move to the safe capital Kathmandu in order to keep my education uninterrupted. Although the Nepalese government publicly declared an end to the civil war in 2006, youth violence continued. The ongoing violence in Nepal motivated me to start rebuilding communities by joining the Rotaract Club of my city, Kathmandu. After high school, I immersed myself in Rotaract’s efforts to build peace through youth activism. Because I believed in Rotaract’s vision of a just world, I worked to organize free health camps for rural Nepalese, volunteer at local orphanages, and create nation wide awareness about polio.
During my service year with Rotaract, I was fortunate to receive a prestigious international student scholarship from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. It allowed me to come the United States for the first time and receive a world-class education. The opportunities were boundless! I continued taking steps towards creating a peaceful Nepal by starting an educational program called the Anne Frank Project Nepal, or AFPN (www.annefranknepal.org). AFPN’s aim is to inculcate values of tolerance and mutual respect among Nepali youth, and to promote sustainable peace through education. Over two summers I taught over 5,000 students about the importance of upholding human rights by using the story of Anne Frank and the Holocaust, major events of world history missing from Nepali textbooks. I also built the Anne Frank Peace Library for 250 war-affected students enrolled at a school in rural Nepal. However, my endeavors wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the Rotaract club I joined in high school. My love and respect for the work that Rotaract and Rotary do is what drove me to apply for this scholarship.
I am delighted to report that this grant will allow me to pursue a Master’s in Conflict Resolution and Governance at the University of Amsterdam. Rotary’s investment in my higher education will help me expand my peace efforts in Nepal, as I hope to build an AFPN educational institution and museum after my graduate education in Amsterdam. However, as much as Rotary has invested in me, they have also invested in my country. You have created a future Rotarian who truly believes in the cause and mission of Rotary and will work to make a change in the world.
Lastly, I want to share deepest gratitude to the Northfield Rotary Club for its incessant support and guidance. I also want to thank my professor Dr. Kris Thalhammer for mentoring me during application and throughout college. I am grateful to District 5960 on behalf of my family, friends and my country for believing in my dreams and providing me this amazing opportunity. I look forward to learning more, developing meaningful relationships and serving the needy.