Hello! My name is Brij Chaudhari. I am a second-year student at MIIS studying Masters in Public Administration. Prior to Middlebury, I was in Montreal for a year as Jeanne Sauve Fellow. I have worked in Nepal with a grassroots NGO called Sano Paila (A Little steps). Along with the non-profit, I also started a cooperative that gives its members opportunities to save and invest in their dreams. The work that I was doing in Nepal was about integrating the underprivileged and marginalized population in the life of the society and restoring dignity in their lives. I learned that cultural, social, political, and economic structure that I was working in is very rigid as the mountains.  I saw fatalism, apathy, and lack of agency in the population that my work was serving. Though my work had impacts on people’s lives, I was getting burned out. The decade long Maoist insurgency did shake these structures but did not completely replaced them. However, the new institutions and policies emerged to include the others (the population that was left behind by the old social, economic, political and cultural structures) and nourish all Nepali lives. In reality, the drivers of these institutions are the same. Integration of the marginalized, the vulnerable and the impoverished population that was suppressed by the elites is still a challenge. I dream of a place where all forms of lives are nurtured and want to explore the Gandhian philosophy more. I also hope to explore indigenous methods of conflict resolution and peace building that is homegrown and not too foreign. I also want to explore the vicious triangle of violence and the virtuous triangle of peace in various circumstances.

As I was doing the back ground readings for this course, The Needs Theory, Cultural & Structural Violence article reminded me that I have been living in a world that is constantly experiencing violence and conflict. I started asking why the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas have always ignored the Dalits and the indigenous in Nepal? Can we full fill needs of all the human beings including all forms of lives? In a Buddhist majority Myanmar, the Rohingyas are still stateless with no formal identity, why? Bhutan will never take back the refugees it created in the 1990s, why? Will the Gorkhaland be an independent state in India? Why has the world ignored the sufferings of Kashmir? Why will the Kikuyus always favor a Kikuyu in Kenya?  How long will the Kurds fight for a sovereign Kurdistan? What is a legitimate government? If someone is killed by some, it is a crime and why is it not a crime when a state is directly or indirectly killing millions? Thinking of all these issues gives me a headache and forces me to shut myself and not discuss these issues. However, I want to move out of this apathy and gain back my agency to act and contribute in building institutions that are participatory. SPP is a great opportunity to discuss such issues.

I grew up in the southern plains of Nepal. I have seen my grand parents waiting for the monsoon rain to plan their crop. They have taught me humility and patience. My mother has taught me kindness and compassion. She never sees a difference between her own kids and the hungry visitor. She feeds all of us on the same floor. Hope the SPP will help me use these values in my professional work and help me find the strengths to hold the values that are non-negotiable. We talked about values in “Story Telling for Change,” class that I took with Dr. Pushpa last semester.

I am really looking forward to learning, growing with SPP.