Tomorrow: Thoughts of a Nepali Student in New York

The real question is what will each of us give back to the country to which we owe our identity? Or will there be no members of our generations to shoulder the responsibility – will there just be a void?

By a Nepali student
This article titled was originally published in the Nov 1-15 issue of New York Nepali Samachar.

Still cannot get to sleep, I turn lazily to the other side of the bed. I open my eyes to glance at the alarm clock; the green digits read 2:00. Five more hours and it is going to come to life, force me out of bed to go to school, then work, and back home late at night. Time never stops, does it? Time passes away with each blink of an eye, and it is up to us to utilize it. The feeling of uneasiness grips me again; and the reason is suddenly clear. I have been thinking about my conversation with Dikshya di and Dipendra dai over tea this afternoon. I have been thinking about what next after graduation.

There are many Nepali students like me in the United States, and many more scattered in countries all over the globe, who have left Nepal in pursuit of higher education. The number is definitely substantial, as I myself have only a handful of friends back home. As students we make immense sacrifices to get that degree we came here for. We think of graduating as our salvation. We hope for an American dream, to get rich and have that perfect house and the perfect job. But what are the chances? And what about Nepal, the essence of who we are? So, when Dipendra dai and Dikshya di both voiced their decision to go back to Nepal after graduation, I had an array of emotions. Shock, admiration, confusion, respect.


My confusion is indeed justifiable. When one goes back to Nepal and gets a “good job,” one may earn Rs. 30,000 a month, which is (30,000/74) $405.40. A week’s wage here, even for a minimum paying work. There is also the question about the lack of opportunities. It is indeed tough for a country to get investors (both foreign and domestic), to invest money when it is still politically instable. Another opportunity lost, because Nepal could gain a lot from the recent trend in globalization. Over 80% of the total Nepali population relies on agriculture; over 80% of the European population were agricultural too, but in the 17th century. It was before the industrial revolution there, which transformed their society from agricultural to industrial and today to technological. Are we 4 centuries behind? It pains me to admit, but the answer sadly is “perhaps.” Perhaps, although our county has had many political revolutions, what we really need is an intellectual revolution.

Nepal doesn’t lack talent or intellect. Nor does it lack natural beauty or appropriate geographical location. I think Nepal is very capable of competing in today’s global market; all it needs really is us – we are the future of Nepal, and it is up to us to determine its fate. Most of the people that I talked to did want to go back to Nepal if there were opportunities. They talked about the prestige and respect they would have back home; the familiarity, family, quality of life and self-respect. Yet others like my friend Pariksha wanted to work here to gain more experience and earn before returning back. “I should at least reach my break-even point,” she explained like a true finance student. And a few others saw no reason for going back.

As I analyzed my confusion again, I realized that I was asking the wrong question. It is not just the question of where we will be working after graduation. The real question is what will each of us give back to the country to which we owe our identity? Or will there be no members of our generations to shoulder the responsibility – will there just be a void?

The writer is a 22 year old female Nepali student in a college in New York.

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40 responses to “Tomorrow: Thoughts of a Nepali Student in New York

  1. Nostalgic, patriotic with an obvious frustration. I, for one welcome Pariksha’s decision which to me is; wise and real but then again the chances are slim. The confusion at home is there to stay, so I gave up shopping in the markets of confusion…..

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  2. This is really crucial question. We also discuss the same question among Nepali residing here in US: What will we do returing Nepal? I, also liked the decision of Pariksha. Gaining some experience in the field we studied and getting our money back which we have spent on our study is truly pragmatic thinking. But after stucking in the job at Us can we shift our mind into going back to home country? Like Nisha said in terms of salary we get here and there. The reason of going back looks preety dumb and stupid.
    When one of my brother returned back to Nepal after spending six month of his study from Japan everybody on his way surprised and asked WHY? why didn’t you continue your stujdy there? My brother was /is an employee ( permanent engineer) of reputed government agency. He used to tell me , Did I make any mistake returning here? The stress he beared to answer the question of WHY is really huge.

    In my personal perception, setting a fixed goal in life and getting back or working here is a good idea. Mahabir Poon returned bck and is doing very good job.
    Everybody can not be Mahabir. But if we think we can do something in our field for our country , this is the best thing no matter where we are or who we are!

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  3. Such writer and others should plan to go back and demand from the “revolutionaries” that their outdated ideology be changed or thrown out. They should show to the people that the world tried and has since moved on to better working ways than those written in the little red book. With majority of the learned, outspoken and well-exposed younger population outside of the country, current day rulers are doing nothing other than “talibanization” of the country with their sheep-making agendas.

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  4. All trash talk. Does she want all Nepalese to go to work in the foreign countries…

    This article does not seem practical at all…………….

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  5. The reasons to leave ones’country may be noble, selfish this depends on each individual.
    the main thing is don’t worry be happy.

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  6. It is a known fact that many Nepalese come to the United States with a dream of being a part of the American Dream. They might come here on a non-immigrant visa, but they want to have a piece of that cake; everybody does. No wonder why people work so hard once they are in America, and with such vigor.
    People know that their hard work will be paid off one day. And, that’s what the American dream promises. It’s that promise that translates into security to numerous immigrants (legal or illegal), and keeps them going.
    If such was the condition in their home country to these immigrant they’d have stayed there. Why come so far away? Away from their family, and away from their comfort zone?
    But there’s always the question of duty. Should one be so patriotic that one should forget about him/ herself? That to me translates as an obligation that I owe to an entity. And, I personally don’t believe in obligation. There is no such thing as obligation.
    But this doesn’t necessarily mean that I am ready to abandon my country? No. Not at all. I guess it’s a personal choice, and one’s philosophy and how one perceives his/her surrounding. There’s no point in dictating anyone’s belief. It’s one’s own!

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  7. I share the same thoughts. Everyday when I am trying to concentrate on my studies, the ambition to do something big, something substantial Nepal runs parallel and my concentration is hampered. My sleep too is troubled and dreams haunted by this thought. We talk about doing something substantial but what is the proper way? Is it by going back or staying here and directing the proper resources there? I don’t know the definite answer.

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  8. I agree its one’s personal choice. For me the main reason for going back would be my home, my family, my friends and my culture. I can’t see the possibility of living in this foreign place whatsoever comfort or luxury it promises. All I know is however unsafe it might be to walk on the streets of my neighborhood back home, however difficult might it be to get a livelihood in Nepal with the worst political situation, if only I am in my home with my family and friends, I can go on living a contented life. All I want to be is content. I might be happy living here but I can’t be content.

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  9. This is true feelings. At first people start thinking that they will earn experience and money and go back to Nepal. When they gain some experiences and money, then they perhaps would have been married, even would ‘ve got child. Then they thought about their future, good schooling for them and after that they will return to homeland. Finally they become settled there. Thinking about nepal, there is always strikes, no fuels, no good education(as compared to US/western world), no rules and no government as well. He could not imagine what he will do after returning to nepal.

    This is similar to people coming to kathmandu from village. They come for education at first, after finishing the study, search for jobs and finally settle in kathmandu with some little land and small house. And he will not return to village.

    Bhaasine bhanchhan ni tei ho,koi kathmandu ma ta koi US ma.

    But there is hope that if 30,000 people are going in US, Australia, canada, Uk and other countries, if 10% will return back with some experience and money, it is gud for nepal. Anyway the feeling to return to the homeland is always there however amount that may be.

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  10. This is her POV, and doesn’t mean that we all have to agree with her. Though we do also agree with her in many points as well. But she sounds too much confused and nostalgic. Seems like she can not make any particular decision on her own.

    A monologue of a Nepali Student in foreign soil.

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  11. This is something that i have been pondering over too and i know the agony of being an international student. No matter what decision we take, stay abroad or go back to nepal, hopefully we will help in the overall development of Nepal…… i wonder what Nisha’s decision is, she doesn’t mention it. Seems like she has left the decision for us to make.

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  12. Glad this came out, and to tell you, its not just a question for people living abroad, its equally concerning for people like me who’ve just graduated from Nepal to leave for US / other countries or not. Unlike me, the toppers in my batch have already started preparing to leave for US, better studies and better opportunities, they say. It is true we’ve been living on a place for frustrations, no lights for 45hours/week, ever increasing living cost, i see why my friends’ have made their decisions.

    Coming to the point of being patriotic / loving one’s country, its just bullshit talk now. No one thinks about Nepal as a motherland, rather giving sentimental values once in a blue moon and then get back to the normal lives.

    The point this article missed is if no one stays, the opportunities will never be created, we’ll still be living as we’ve always been in here. No change, no nothing. If we’re not able to live the dream in here in Nepal, we’re to think about our coming generations and atleast make a platform where they can ripen. Unless that happens our firends and families will be buying a same one way ticket to foreign-land.

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  13. true, now i see more and more graduates and people with satisfactory job, people in thier late twenties and early thirties leaving nepal. nepal for the next 15 yrs will be swinging like a pendulam, personally i’m moving just for my children, let’s hope when they come back after 20 yrs there will be no murders, kidnapping, bandhs, inflation, pollution, traffic jams, uncivilised people…………didi i leave anything?????

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  14. oh…………. 45 hrs load shedding a week

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  15. So true, when American, Indian & European were establishing Universities, Prithvi Narayan Shah was still uniting Nepal, so you can imagine and estimate where we stand in terms of lagging centuries.
    But never loose a hope, a day will come when youngsters like you and I will be so frustrated; that we will pack our bags and leave this foreign world forever. Go and unite to envision a NAYA NEPAL. The hardest challenge that I see is our mentality to convert $$ to NRS, which just makes every thing 75 times harder. Let’s all hope, pray and work towards that. Read more of our ideas about Naya Nepal only at http://www.nayanepalnews.com/

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  16. A monologue i guess…

    from the diary of a Nepalese student :p

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  17. These thoughts play in the mind of Nepali students in foreign land..of course among those who think…All the things she said are true..We come upon many situations where the actions on both sides are equally justifiable. This is the state of confusion one has..neither decisions can have holistically supporting views..So, the decision relies on career, financial situation of oneself and family, ties with homeland, desire to live on the society you belonged. I mean just depends on the circumstances and moreover what one values the most.

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  18. freedom writer

    I am sure that these patriotic thoughts that the author is talking about have crossed mind of all those students (at least once during their “international student” phase of life), who initially came to foreign land to attain quality higher education and not to fulfill their american dreams (although for most of them dream of quality education eventually converts into “american dream”). I have had my share of same kind of thoughts and few sleepless nights during my international-student life. I wanted to go back, but was not sure how I could contribute to make a better Nepal, was not even sure the education i got in foreign land would be useful in Nepal. Frankly speaking, I was being a coward. I was scared of taking the risk to convert the shophisticated tools and techniques i learned about in foreign land to make it work to match the needs and necessities of undeveloped nepal. So, I decided like Pariksha to stay here, earn some experience and money before heading home. Now i am in danger of getting into this quick sand of american dreams. First it was only job for some experience and some money to return back (i can not return home broke can i?). Then, before i know i will get married, of course with some one who has also been in this foreign land for few years and who knows about the difficulties we have to face in this foreign land. Then there will be kids, their schooling, their education. And finally when they grow up enough to take care of themselves, I may become a foreigner in my own country. So you see, its not that i don’t want to take few responsibilities to develop my country, i simply don’t know how to do it and how to get out of this quick sand of “foreign dreams” before it engulfs me. And well, I am a lil’ scared to go back with all those rumors of nepal bandhs, inflation, high commodity and gas prices, kidnaps and murders, street vandalization, chakka jaams and above all, the load shedding.

    Nisha when you asked “The real question is what will each of us give back to the country to which we owe our identity? Or will there be no members of our generations to shoulder the responsibility – will there just be a void?”

    I think there will be just a void for few more years to come or may be few more decades to come until we realize what we lost in loosing our country nepal.

    (P.S.: Nice write up Nisha!)

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  19. With the recent trend of young generation travelling abroad for higher studies, chances are they will end up not wanting to return to Nepal for whatever reasons mostly justifiable as Nisha has argued.
    But what about Nepal’s future which is already at stake. Nepal need us, our expertise, and our knowledge to bring the change. It hurts to see Nepal struglling as its two neighboring countries emerge as two major power in the World. We should be in constant look for opputunities, we need to create them and explore the possibilites with optimism. Every little contribution and effort will count. Nepal is counting on our generation. We do not want a void. Do we?

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  20. This is the same that all students, no matter which country, are going through. They have to balance their studies and work all together. And very less of social life. But regarding the pay definitely the pay in the foreign countries is good than that in Nepal. That is the main factor that people migrate to foreign lands. The other factor is also important which is the quality of lifestyle.

    Here, in Nepal we have to live with different type of life. And now with the Maoists in the Government, what can we expect more from them and their explanations of “democracy”. God knows what they are going to do. Slowly and slowly they might be pulling the country towards a different type of “democracy”.

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  21. why people want to stay in others country ?????????? US, America, Australia or Canada ect? its not your country ….come back to Nepal or Go back to Nepal … i m facing same thing at the moment … as i already decided to go back from Sydney….and every one is asking why you going to Nepal i simply say Australia is not my country …… i am here for short period … now i am going back…. and i am not a citizen of this country …. everyone talks about bad things of Nepal they even don’t have hope …. we have to create the Hope …. and another thing for writer … whoever it is … have you ever think that you earn in $$$ and spend $$$ not in rupee so why you are converting your earnings in Nepali rupee??? if you have dare … go back to Nepal and try to earn 30000 ruppee per month , its impossible for you … but there are still few people who have hope to make Nepal better and safe place ….
    good day ..

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  22. When you come to the USA on a student visa, you have to promise to return to your home country. You are not living in the USA on a resident visa with permission to work. You have a STUDENT VISA. You are allowed to work a minimum number of hours on a student visa (a rule which is mostly violated). The purpose in coming to the USA for your studies is to return to your home country to make use of the education you received, and hopefully to uplift your own country. Its not a “get in free” pass to America. The United States does not owe you a visa. Our country gives student visas in the hopes of educating future leaders who will go home and tranform Nepal. I know many Nepalese who came here as students and never returned. The majority of them planned it that way. They either stayed on illegally, then applied to change their status, or they married someone who was already legal. The reason it is so difficult for many Nepalese to get visas to America now is because of those of you who have gone before and have violated the terms of your student or tourist visa and never returned. I say, return to your home country and use your education to transform Nepal. What happens when all the educated Nepalese leave?

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  23. I would like to first commend Nisha Shrestha for bringing this topic to the forefront. As a professional therapist, I can tell she is undergoing a process of finding out who she is and what she wants out of life and it is not “bullshit” as some have described it to be. Good for you for taking a stand and reaching out Nisha!

    As for me, I am a Nepali-American who came here as a child with my family and have been here for the past 25 years. Although it may be hard for some skeptics to believe, I echo the same sentiment as Nisha does. I feel it is time for me to give back to Nepal although I am not yet ready to settle there. I am in the process of moving from US to Australia in few months, but plan to head to Nepal first for about a month or so. While I’m in Nepal, my goal is to relax as well as work towards the development of Nepal. I strongly feel with the new political climate, better days are ahead for Nepal. However, with one prerequisite and that is for young, educated people to return and make whatever contributions they can and I don’t mean monetary contributions. At this time, I actually discourage monetary contributions since we have pervasive corruption in our society that has become second nature to all whether we want to admit it or not. I don’t feel that all Nepali students abroad need to return to Nepal and the decision to give back to the country is a very individually based with no right or wrong way to do this. I feel every single Nepali has something to offer to the community, it’s just a matter of finding out what that something is.

    While I’m in Australia, I am also going to have a platform to work with international Nepali students there and hope to empower them as well. I strongly feel the “brain drain” and low social-esteem are two key factors in holding Nepal back. We, as Nepalis, whether in Nepal or abroad need to take personal responsibility of our actions in our personal, professional, and national lives. If we do not do this, we will not be able to work together for the greater good of all Nepalese. I would like to end by saying that “we only lift ourselves up if we first lift others up.”

    Peace,
    AB

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  24. It is tottaly true that Nepal is still corrupted politically, everybody will try to fill their bag. I agree that we should contribute to our community inorder to make it a better place to live.We should look forward the NRN’s for a better time to put our efforts together in the days to come. Im certain that things will get better, but it is not yet. Wait till u make any donations coz it might end up somewhere else.This is the time when contributions like Volunteering in the Villages of Nepal and spending time educating poor’s will be worthwhile.
    God bless Nepal.

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  25. to go or not to go? is a personal choice. I really belive in life’s calling. Deep down you already know the answer. I think its all blurred by our conception of comfort, does it just mean having a big paycheck to be able to afford stuff..or does it mean being able to say..yes this is what I want to do, where I want to be, being comfortable with yourself and your life around you, or it may mean a combination of both and what is more important. If you plan to go, be rest assured that you will have to struggle a lot to really make it (whatever that means), but that is life..I think in Nepal it’s easier to give up than say for instance in the US where you will struggle, there is pride in work of any kind, you don’t care, you do what you have to survive…Whereas in Nepal it always what will (Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles or Neighbours) think? A lot of us have given up on Nepal…don’t we call it the Sati le Sarapeko Desh..where nothing good lasts..well that may be harsh but isn’t it what it is? I am not saying oh go back to Nepal, Nepal needs you; all I am saying go through life without hoping to be comfortable..its much more enjoyable: take your chances. this is the lyrics of the last part of the Cuban song “Guantanamera” —
    With the poor people of the earth
    I want to share my fate
    The brook of the mountains
    Gives me more pleasure than the sea.

    Hope you live.

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  26. random thoughts: there are other ways to lose our identity, even if we are live right there in Nepal…like our literature which is lost to most of us( the younger generation) ..most of us are illiterate and those who have the means are not bothered..they are so distracted with oh so many things…this is our life..we read in english medium schools where we are punished for speaking Nepal, we are drilled to become doctors, nurses, engineers so that we can lead comfortable lives. We equte Kathmandu=Nepal and we bound ourselves to the hills surrounding Kathmandu valley. We are afraid of being uncomfortable. I want my children to see another Nepal, a little less disappointing one.. I still wonder does Nepal disappoint us or do we disappoint Nepal.

    But we need to work for change.

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  27. It’s quite shocking to see Maggies’ comment. She’s given such a bad name to those Nepalese who overstayed their visas without even considering what made them do so.
    In addition we all know that immigration system all around the world is not fair. So are we to fight a corrupt or rather a racist system, or to simply follow the suit, and let the machine enslave us, as Maggie proposes?
    Having said that I would like to say that in no way I’m proposing anarchism and lawlessness. Actually, I’m quite against them.

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  28. Actually,there is nothing left to be commented on but I would like to add two more term there,one is the ultimate goal, other being self respect
    when we all leave tribhuwan international airport,we not only pack the luggage but also the dreams and hopes to go with the indiviual desires and finally we settle in foreign country until the dreams are fulfilled and we say to ourself ‘this is it’, and a universal truth is that desire has no limit and we finally settle there till the eternity. there is no limit to this discussions we can elongate it as long as we wish to but the bottom line is the high hopes that lures us to the throny path of abroad.I wish and hope and pray for the wishes of all the NRNs to be fulfilled sooner and we all knowingly or unknowingly help to build ‘naya nepal’
    other aspect is the ‘self respect’, which lacks in the abroad nations. Even the doctors, engineers(me myself),and higher dignified government officers do the job that we nepelese term as ‘WAIYAT’, I myself is no exception, I have a strong feeling this trend gonna change in the years to come by no matter wat the political scenario be therer back home,
    if government has to take a bold step then i think it has to seal the Tribhuwan inter.airport and then the so called intellectula

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  29. …..intellectuals will have no options but to find ways to survive in the country.
    any way ,i pray to the almighty that wherever we be we love our motherland
    JAI NEPAL ,JAI MATRI BHUMI
    AND BEST OF LUCK N LOVE TO ALL THE NRN
    bandhan baral
    CA,berkeley

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    • HAI Bandan daju i am not NRN thanks for your pray but only ur pray cant do anything in the betterment of Nepal, but you are the one who rather than praying start to work for making your country lively.

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  30. Nishant Agrawal

    Pathetically rubbish from the few comments that I read. Why is it always about money and securing the future. Can’t you people just live in the present. Yes the highest pay for an engineer in our country is not beyond 30,000, but then that should be enough to live in our country. And yes working in a foreign country, then I think you all want our country to live on remittance only, because that is what this country will be surviving on if everybody just goes abroad to earn a good sum. Thank you friends on deciding on the future of this country.

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  31. I have lived most of my life outside Nepal. I am not saying it proudly but than I am thankful for the fact that I was able to learn quite a lot at a younger age. What living outside has taught me is the fact that there is no place like home. Yes I know we are not the best country in terms of anything to live but we have what it takes to make it better for the future. Just because we do not have the perfect life does not mean that we can not create the “perfect life” for the generations to come. What Nepal lacks is the willingness of people to come together and work together for everyone’s betterment. Not just the betterment of our future, our family or our neighbor but for the betterment of the society as a whole.
    Before going anywhere the simple life in KTM or any place in Nepal was the perfect life, as soon as we step out of that airplane we start to complain about everything. We complain that there is no electricity, we complain there is no gas, we complain there is no water, we complain there is just pollution, we complain there is no proper education, we complain there is no safety. The bottom line is we just complain about everything. I think to myself, aren’t these just habits? Habits are easy to make and break; I wonder how these all came in between us and our love for our country. If all of us are as educated and settled as we all claim to be than why are we scared of moving out of this comfort zone?
    I am a Nepali and I am proud to be who I am. The question is not what is there to do in Nepal but how can we make it an attractive place for the generations to come.

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  32. Great thoughts!!!
    I wish every nepalese thinks the same way.

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  33. Love my country hate my country? This is one thing we say in side the home not we hate our country but keep a little distance from fellow nepalese and anyone who hates their counry goes to jail anywhere in the world.

    Discussion of old versus new?

    Nostalgic status quoists versus violent dreamers?
    A common ground is more than a territory. Nepalese community from abroad can do a lot more to remediate hard liners on both sides. Without having to go black and white when the dream of a new country has become same old like home then anyone likes to go home and cannot return.
    Not because there is nothing to return to but many indians find themselves in the same position in UK, the remained a colony of different people. So the question is end up like intermarrying castes abroad eating momo and dhal bhat and women work as cleaner or babysitter, the men do manual chores….
    Yes then home was a good time. When I did not have to WORK.

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  34. hey i jst went thru this blog ..and was wondering…what abt the challenges faced by the nepalese students studying in America…are there any..socio-cultural or workplace challenges….

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  35. IT is easy for you NRN people to write a article and say that we will return back to Nepal if the condition of Nepal is good. But have you ever realised whats ur duty towards country where you born. You all went there worked there and earned some up to it its good but now bring your money back, bring your technique back and invest it here give us job and make your country. IF you NRNs dont start to do so then we are helpless. I passed my college and now for reading i have to earn myself but i am helpless. so NRNs you can save us. plz save us.

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  36. thanks mohini di for your write.

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  37. Great to find feelings of Nepalese students abroad.

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  38. I think that students who come to study overseas should probably finish their study then go back to Nepal otherwise they will be sucked in to the money here.Its good idea to take work experience and then return back. Life is hard everywhere .

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  39. in my thought….this particular country are just the boundries to narrow our thinking and its finally destroying the world……so just widen mind is simple thing we can do to this proposal………we can do whatever we want if we simply think without priorities(priorities to Nepal) think globally and you can think better..

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