I was born and raised in Nepal and am currently a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York. This summer I’m in Hanoi, Vietnam working with Plan International, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children across over 50 countries. This opportunity has been possible through the UNA-NY’s Summer Scholars Program and I am incredibly grateful for their generous support. At Plan Vietnam, my hope is to understand, assess and strengthen their monitoring and evaluation system and of course, learn heaps of unrelated things in the process.
I can’t draw a detailed roadmap to explain how I ended up here. But I’ll try – I was born in Nepal, went to boarding school in India and completed undergraduate in the US (with a semester in Denmark). Maybe it was the stark difference between my lifestyle in Nepal/India and US/Denmark that pushed me in this direction – going from a place with just 11 hours of electricity a day to one where air conditioning is blasting 24×7 was hardly a smooth transition. I moved to India after graduation to feed my curiosity on solutions to challenges in economic development. In my 3 years there, I moved 3 times to 3 different states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana) in 3 different parts of the country (South, East, North), each with a different culture and unique set of development challenges. Worked with the smartest people I know, and met the weirdest ones too. I knew I wanted to study further, so I decided to get a degree in public policy. Hence came the big move to the Big Apple (I still don’t know why it is called that!). One year into my masters, I had learned a lot but also realized that there was so much more to learn. And now here I am, spending my summer in Vietnam, trying to understand the contextual variations of development.
One thing I have learned from my experience of moving around is that no matter how much “research” you do about a new place, it never completely prepares you for what’s coming up. So naturally this time, I steered clear from trying too hard to understand Hanoi before actually getting here. I intend to unravel this city and everything it has to offer one step at a time, and hopefully provide a sane account of my experiences of working and living in a place that is different and unfamiliar.
So here goes…