After a grueling exam schedule and whirlwind trip home to Calgary, it’s finally sinking in that in a few short days, I’ll be making the long trans-pacific flight via Bangkok to Nepal.
This semester at Georgetown has felt like an intense crash course on Nepal and the discrimination and exclusion facing the Dalit, or untouchables of the Hindu caste system. Despite my close relationship with the Nepal section of the library, I’m prepared to have all my assumptions and preconceptions challenged by realities on the ground.
Nepal is at a crossroads. Just over a month ago, tens of thousands of Nepalis took to the streets and demanded that King Gyanendra step aside and restore democracy. Flickers of hope have emerged that the grinding ten year war with Maoist guerillas may be coming to a close.
This is a very exciting time to be partnering with Nepal’s human rights community. It now seems inevitable that a constituent assembly will meet to redraw Nepal’s constitution. For the Dalit, these deliberations will be an opportunity to push for the kind of change that will be necessary if the daily and systematic abuse that they face is going to end.
The Jagaran Media Center is on the front lines of this struggle. While I know that there is no way to be fully prepared for this summer, I am honored to be a part of the JMC’s work and to experience firsthand developments on the ground during this historical moment.
Posted By Nicole Cordeau (Nepal)
Posted May 20th, 2006