Juliana Shrestha is a NAROPA Scholar studying in Ladakh, India. In 2019, she was selected as a Daayitwa Nepal Public Service Fellow, where she received Nepal Leadership Academy’s ‘Leading Innovation’ course.

While researching ways to boost youth employment through enterprise development in Tansen, Palpa as part of her fellowship, Juliana had to build a good rapport with not only the locals for data collection, but also with the government officials whose cooperation she required to fulfill her responsibilities.

Juliana had participated in StoryYellers and Tedx Talks in the past. But she had never thought of sharing stories—written or oral—as a very effective tool for influencing others. She states, “through the public narrative course component, I learnt to craft stories, making them more influential and impactful.”

Her personal journey towards leadership is highlighted through her own words in her public narrative below.


I grew up in a family that kept me protected from a lot of the political and national events of the country. I used to hear stories about my grandfather and my mother being actively involved in national politics before my birth but had been some events of a personal nature that halted their engagement in politics and hence of others in the family too.

Being an inquisitive kid, I used to ask them about such experiences and question them about national political events. The answer I received was always that I was too young to understand and that I should just let it go. My shyness overrode my curiosity and I was too intimidated to ask my teachers in school or anyone beyond my immediate family.

Unlike many of my current acquaintances, I never engaged myself in leadership activities in school. It was not that I did not have such opportunities but due to the restrictions placed on me in my early childhood, I simply lost interest. While my friends and peers became prefects, house monitors and team captains, I was just another quiet nerd sitting in the front of the class, living in the shadow of her topper best-friend despite having the same scope for opportunities as the budding leaders around me. 

Getting in college was a turning point in my life, not just because it got me out of my friend’s shadow but because it got me out of the shell I was living in, the small world I had constructed for myself. The hardest step was the first one: simply asking to be involved, but once this hurdle was crossed, these experiences encouraged me to feel empowered and get comfortable with being uncomfortable as I interacted with seniors and leaders in all capacities. I organised college events, volunteered, networked with people from diverse backgrounds, and even ended up getting elected as the Vice-President of the Student Welfare Council (SWC) at my college. The quiet nerd now evolved as a leader, and in doing so got the opportunity to learn more about the country, its politics and national events from the network I had built. 

Despite the boost of confidence I gained in college, I was apprehensive when beginning this fellowship that I would not be able to connect with the fellows, as we all came from such diverse backgrounds, and being the only fellow not educated abroad I thought I would not fit in. This initial apprehension was quickly put to rest. At some point of time, we all find ourselves in a place where we seek growth, where we want to break that shell. All of us fellows have challenged ourselves, some time, some where, to become better, do better. In this process of self-exploration, I personally felt the need, as most of us do, to contribute to a bigger purpose, help others explore such possibilities. The connection I feel with the fellows I have been on this journey with is based on this desire, and this common drive to understand our own government. The curiosity in such explorations drives us and unites us in our search for knowledge in spite of our differing backgrounds. This thirst for information motivates us to do more. When we have broken out of the shell, we see the world that lies out there. It comes with a feeling of freedom, accompanied by the horror of all the problems out there, but also the opportunities, to make a difference. 

We have led our lives by our own choices, now it’s time to lead for others. It’s time we take this opportunity to share to the world, that complains so much about “the system” in Nepal, the experience of engaging with that very system. 

At a time when social media is so accessible to everyone, I believe the various experiences we have had with the fellowship are worth sharing, be it the experience of reading through policy documents or of conversing with a government official. So, put up that status on Facebook or that story on Instagram. You never know who you might spark that inspiration in; another quiet little nerd might be waiting. Spread the word. Start today.