TRACING NEPAL : AN INITIATIVE BY LEX LIMBU: YOUNG NEPALESE LIVING IN UK MAKE AN EFFORT TO RECONNECT WITH THEIR HOME NATION
The past decade has seen massive fluctuations in the number of students going abroad to study. In the fiscal year 2007/08, only 587 students had received no-objection letters from the ministry. There was a dramatic surge in the fiscal year 2008/09 as a total of 24,824 student sought no-objection letters from the ministry, however the numbers plummeted by more than fifty per cent in the fiscal year 2010/11.
All the while the entire trend of youngsters pursuing life abroad has been fiercely debated. There are some who strongly support the decision of youngsters who go abroad to seek a broader perspective of life and education , while some condemn them as turncoats who have turned their backs on their nation; other perspectives fall somewhere in between.
Then there are those Nepali people who are born in a foreign country but are yet rooted to the nation of their forefathers. Lex Limbu is a popular blogger and the way people perceive him might differ from every other individual. Although his love for Nepal is evident (Proof: check out his blog), he understands that Nepali youngsters may feel like a foreigner in their own country.
Keeping that in mind, his proactive efforts can be seen with his initiative: Tracing Nepal. We asked him a few questions to find out more about his plans.
TNM: Tell us about Tracing Nepal and the motive behind it.
LEX: Tracing Nepal basically aims to facilitate a unique travel experience where selected volunteers will be able to immerse themselves in the daily lives of those living in rural communities of Nepal whilst having the opportunity to form friendships with people from a similar background to them. Furthermore, the experience will also expose them to the adventures available in Nepal.
TNM: Do you have a personal connection/attachment that motivated you to initiate Tracing Nepal?
LEX: Having spent the majority of my life in the UK and Brunei, I can understand how it feels to be disconnected from your place of birth or somewhere that you are originally from and I see many young Nepali boys and girls in the UK who are going through the same thing. The idea behind Tracing Nepal, is to facilitate an experience that will take them beyond their own homes in Nepal or the comforts of the tourist hubs and transport them to places that are more disconnected where they are able to trace the steps of their parents and also leave a mark behind; which I hope will encourage them to foster a deeper relationship with Nepal.
TNM: Who are involved in the organizing team? Who have you collaborated with here in Nepal?
LEX: To make Tracing Nepal happen, I also have the assistance of Chimmi Gurung and Chandrika Gurung, they both reside in the UK. In Nepal, I am communicating with members of Maya Universe Academy and The Last Resort to turn this idea into a reality. We are hopeful of adding a few team leaders from Nepal and I am pretty sure their local knowledge and skills will be an asset to the team.
TNM: You have mentioned the existence of a gap between youngsters living abroad and their home country. Where do you think the fall out occurs?
LEX: When you live abroad for many years you are bound to be more connected to the people and the culture of your host nation and in a way, the host nation becomes your nation. Individuals may become one with their immediate surrounding and thus create or recreate their own identity through it. It is inevitable. So, when you do go back to the country that you are “originally from”, in this case – Nepal, then the experiences that you have there may result in you feeling alienated from the wider society and I believe this is something that goes hand in hand with relocation.
TNM: What is your take on Nepali students going abroad to study and settling there?
LEX: We all have to survive and fend for ourselves and if that means going abroad to study and seizing the opportunity to work and settle in a foreign land then I’m fine with the idea. However, my strong take in settling abroad is never to lose your relationship with the country that you are from and try as much as possible to be involved directly or indirectly. I would really like to encourage more people to be involved directly with their villages back home, through road construction, provisions for better health facilities and their likes.
TNM: What impact do you think will Tracing Nepal have on the volunteers coming to Nepal and on Nepal as a country?
LEX: I hope the volunteers will remember the Tracing Nepal experience as something that was very memorable and something that gave them an opportunity to understand the lives that people lead in Nepal beyond the urban spheres of Kathmandu, Pokhara or Dharan. And who knows, if this encourages one or two to consider a career in helping Nepal develop, then I guess I’ll be over the moon.
I can’t say what implications that TN will have for Nepal but I am positive that the volunteers will be a source of inspiration for the many children that they work alongside with at the Maya Universe Academy and Singh Devi School of Sablakhu village.
I AM MORE INTERESTED IN NEPALI MEDIA OR NEPALI TELEVISION TO COVER TRACING NEPAL AS I WANT NEPAL TO SEE WHAT OTHER NEPALESE ARE DOING. IT WOULD BE NICE IF OUR ACTIONS ENCOURAGE OTHER NEPALESE TO DO SOMETHING SIMILAR.
TNM: What are the criteria for the selection of the candidates/volunteers coming on this journey? Is it just for the adventure or are you looking for people with an actual social motif?
LEX: For this phase of Tracing Nepal we are looking out for eight Nepalese living in the UK who are 18 or above. It would be ideal if they are interested to learn more about Nepal, a team player and someone who will be able to bring something to the team as well. Regarding the volunteers interest in adventure or an actual social motif, that is something that I believe we will play a role in sculpting. I am confident that the final day of the experience will be one where volunteers will walk away with a drive to do something noteworthy.
TNM: What will the volunteers be doing when they come to Nepal?
LEX: During the 16 day experience volunteers will be involved in all aspects of village life from working on the fields, household duties and looking after animals. Aside from that, the days at Maya Universe Academy will be where they can share what they know and expose their leadership qualities as they will be working closely with children. We also plan on holding a health and education awareness presentation on our final day at the Sablakhu village in Taplejung.
TNM: Are you planning on creating/ keeping some sort of record throughout the entire trip? Maybe collaborating with a foreign media to highlight the trip and Nepal?
LEX: Right now – I haven’t had the chance to think about that but more than foreign media, I am more interested in Nepali media or Nepali television to cover Tracing Nepal as I want Nepal to see what other Nepalese are doing. It would be nice if our actions encourage other Nepalese to do something similar.
TNM: What would you suggest the Nepali youth in Nepal to do in order to make some sort of impact?
LEX: We need to stop thinking that we are entitled to a lot of things, we need to learn to be more grateful for everything that we have. And in doing that, our positive mind will be much more willing and ready to share experiences and actions which I’m sure will have an impact on the lives of many others.
TNM: We certainly hope this is the first of many such initiations. Have you planned a of follow up on Tracing Nepal in the future?
LEX: I really hope to continue Tracing Nepal in the future and open this experience up for Nepalese from everywhere including Nepal and non-Nepalese too.
TNM: Can the people in Nepal join in on Tracing Nepal?
LEX: We are primarily looking out for Nepalis living in the UK for the eight volunteer positions however we have received several applications from people from Nepal and they will also be considered for few of the team member roles.
Born in Nepal and raised in Brunei, Lex is a popular blogger based in UK. In spite of living in the UK, Lex has his heart set in Nepal which is apparent from his blog.
Check his blog out at: lexlimbu.com