Posted: 5 September 2018                                                                                    By: Sushma Thapa

Bird’s eye view of my village, Bhimpokhara, Baglung

Green hill forests, open fields, a narrow river flowing by the side of the house, wildflowers and berries, stone houses with white slates roof and red bricks, buffalos by the pond and beautiful seasonal flowers come afresh as I go down memory lane of my childhood. I grew up in Bhimpohkhara, a small village in Baglung. And it was one of the magical times of my childhood.

As a child, my favorite part of the day was roaming around the village and playing chungi, marbles and collecting wild berries and rhododendron flowers. I spent hours chit-chatting with my neighborhood friends. In those days, our town did not have electricity; we used to use kerosene lamps laltin a traditional wick light. Some houses had solar lights, so during nights, we used to gather around the where there were lights and used to listen to our grandma’s folk tales. Sometimes we used to sit up and count the solar lights on the opposite hillside to us – they felt like stars on earth.

Typical houses with slate roof

But in 2002, I moved to Kathmandu with my family who wanted a better education and future for us. Upon coming to Kathmandu, I was bewildered with amazement on knowing how big the city was, star-like lights, buses, and crowds of people who were always in a hurry. Later, after my enrollment in school, my busy schedule started with long school hours, coaching classes and homework. I was expected to study more, and when I had free time, I still had to have a book in my hand – because books could take me to better future. But I felt confined in the four walls of my room and classes. I felt caged compared to the time in the village.

But I got on with my life, completed my school, college, and University – and throughout my only concern was to excel academically. Things got a little diverse when I was pursuing Law for my bachelors – I found more opportunities to work in diverse communities through legal aid. My pro-activeness and my participation in extracurricular activities helped me to push my limits. It opened me to new opportunities and experiences in life beyond the theories of the classroom. The same boldness encouraged me to take up this fellowship course by leaving my full-time job as a Legal Officer to enrich myself with the new experiences and knowledge. I believe this is what counts more for me.

In this fellowship, I was more interested in the leadership course, as I wanted the leadership course to foster my confidence and leadership skills. I wanted to get more perspective about leadership through the course. This course challenged my entire view of leader from power, authority position to new dynamics of leader – as to how they always have a ‘work at the center’ and how they strive to work together on a shared purpose. The course helped me to open up and has enhanced my ability to lead others with my ideas.

The public narrative was another crucial activity in which we were asked to narrate the story of self, us and now. The most challenging part of the narrative for me was sharing the story of self, because firstly, it was difficult to connect the story of self with the story of us and now. And Secondly, telling the story of self was more self reflecting than anything, which I wasn’t used to. Because growing up in strict discipline, and continuously striving to excel academically and tendencies to suppress painful life event to be mentally and emotionally strong without showing the emotional vulnerability to people had become my comfort zone and in another word a habit!

This course has motivated me to follow a beautiful journey of self-introspection of my story: of how I can connect it with the story of us and work for the greater purpose. This course is different than the other courses, as it focuses on our reflection and continuous practice – where the answers to the questions we ask are within us.

It just needed a little more courage to open – Our Self Story!

– Sushma Thapa was a Daayitwa-Nepal 2018 Public Service Fellow who worked at the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission