Tassos Coulaloglou

Tassos Coulaloglou (Collective Campaign for Peace – COCAP): Tassos was born and raised in New Jersey. He attended the University of Wisconsin (UW) and graduated with his BS in Political Science in 2001. Tassos spent one year studying abroad at Utrecht University in Holland while in his final year at UW, After graduation, Tassos moved to Lithuania to become a freelance journalist and teach high-school history and English as a second language. In 2004, he returned to the States to work as a team leader with the League of Conservation's Envirovictory political campaign in Milwaukee. He returned to Eastern Europe the following year and resumed writing before starting graduate school. At the time of his fellowship, Tassos was studying for a Master's degree in International Relations and Diplomacy offered jointly by Leiden University and the Clingendael in Holland. After his fellowship, Tassos wrote: “...now in class, I try to break the Euro/America-centric positions that seem to dominate and ask what the Nepali view would be…this fellowship pushed me to understand a people, to think in their terms."

Dary 3: Nishi and the Program

05 Jul

Well, I knew it would happen sooner or later. Nepal has caught up to my digestive system and I’m in trouble. Last night for dinner, we all gathered in the kitchen, smoke completely filling the room, the family’s kids sleeping near the stove. I took a seat next to the others on the floor, but I could barely eat anything. I tried to get to bed early but I was running to the bathroom pretty often, which was outside and it was raining. Not fun.

Luckily we were able to sleep in. This means we were woken up with tea (ciya) at 6:30 am. Normally it would have been at the crack of dawn, so about 5:15. I was hurting and I wasn’t alone. Omkar, a social worker and part owner of a radio station in Baglung was also sick. We got up slowly and after searching for a place to take a shower (as we washed up, the locals were doing dishes and collecting water), we took our breakfast. Omkar and I ate last. In doing so, we arrived to the program an hour late. It was 11 am when we entered the stone and mud schoolhouse. To my surprise, the only people there were the ones I came with yesterday.

Just hanging out in the schoolhouse and waiting for the villagers.

Yogendra talking to some participants before the start of the day’s program.

As I tell Yogendra every time things are late (everyone had a big laugh about it when he made me say it out loud to participants) we were right on time…Nepali time. But once we began, a sizable crowd (eventually around 35 people) attended and Yogendra opened things with an introduction and overview of the day. He went over some basic themes and did a great job from what I could tell. He was very enthusiastic, involved everyone in the conversation and kept people laughing. I was impressed with my dai.

Once we did get started, Yogendra introduced the program for the day.

After the intro, Tajendra Thapa, chairperson of the Nepalese Indigenous Federation of Nepal, talked about ethnic politics and inclusiveness regarding the upcoming Constituent Assembly. Tajendra is a very gregarious guy, who if he’s not telling a story is singing a Nepali song, so I always knew where he was in our hike yesterday.

Next was Lalbahadur Thapa, chairperson of the All Nepal National Free Student Union. He discussed issues concerning the constitution and went into the specifics behind the Constituent Assembly (CA). Each citizen will cast two votes: one for party (proportional representation) and one for a candidate (first past the post). These elected officials will then draft a constitution for which new election will be held and a new system of government formed.

One group of people not late to the start of events was the kids, who took a great interest in what happened inside the schoolhouse.

Yogendra finished up the day’s program by explaining the concept of inclusive democracy. He talked about the different ways Nepal’s many ethnic groups should be involved in the constitutional process, their rights as citizens in a democracy, and their continued involvement after the CA in the actual governing of state.

Tomorrow is another half day program starting in the morning. Unfortunately I won’t be there to see it. I’m off early with Omkar to start the 2 day journey back to Baglung as we’re both not getting any better. Omkar says he thinks he has typhoid (I got my typhoid shot, right?). I haven’t eaten anything all day and I’m dreaming of any drink that is bottled and doesn’t taste like boiled smoke water from the fire in the kitchen.

Posted By Tassos Coulaloglou

Posted Jul 5th, 2007

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