Nepal, My Country — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Gaurav Adhikari
I am an international student at The College of St. Scholastica from a relatively tiny country in the Himalayas officially known as Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Many people struggle to point out my country in a map, however, home to the tallest mountain peak in the world and the birth place of Lord Buddha, we are a bunch of very proud people living in the foothills of the mountains in Southeast Asia.
Nepal borders Tibet/China on the north and India in the east, west and south. This nation, mostly known to the US by the hippies from the ’60s as a place of tranquility, also brags about its rich cultural heritage and diversity in ethnicity. The country celebrates over 130 different languages and tribes. Although a national language common for most people in the country does allow for easy communication, people from different communities speak completely different languages and have distinct cultural traditions. For instance, my mother and my father who are from different regions of the country, speak completely different languages; both of which I cannot speak. Like most people my age, I grew up speaking the common national language.
Roughly up until the turn of the millennium, Nepal has been largely ruled by monarchs in relative isolation. Geographical location was one of the primary barriers for this and without proper roads available, people inside the country never were able to move around freely. My parents tell me stories of how they remember seeing some of the first cars in the Nepal that were carried through rivers and hills on decks made of bamboo sticks requiring about 30 people to maneuver.
Throughout history, as in most places, religion has been the primary agent to dictate lifestyles in the country. Predominantly Hindus and Buddhists, a foreign traveler once described Nepal as the land where there were more temples and shrines than houses. Although that notion is now outdated, people in Nepal still revolve their lives around centuries old religious practices. Even in new and so called ‘modern houses,’ we can find ‘prayer rooms’ usually on the top floor of peoples’ houses which is basically a temple for the family living under that roof.
Apart from all the scenic beauty and the rich culture, Nepal has been going through a rather rough patch in recent years. A civil war sparked by the Maoist party saw guerrilla warfare throughout the country in the ’90s. Meanwhile, in June 2001, due to what is believed to be a marital dispute, the entire royal family of Nepal was massacred by their very own crown prince on the day of his wedding engagement. This left Nepal in the hands of a less-qualified distant heir of the king. As the situation deteriorated, the civil war was fueled by further impotent governing by the king which led to massive demonstrations and rallies pressuring the king to step down in 2007. Unfortunately, with a 240-year history of monarchy, Nepal has struggled to establish a legitimate government as it enters a new epoch as a republic nation. Along with the Maoist party, different political groups have pushed to gain power, leaving the country to be labeled as one of the poorest and the least developed.
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Project Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU
For all of the North Star Project Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
The North Star Project Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Project. The North Star Project has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Project students and teachers.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
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