Maya Washington (Nepal)

Maya grew up in San Francisco, CA. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently a graduate student at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management; pursuing a degree in Coexistence and Conflict with a focus on Humanitarian Aid. Maya is a former Peace Corps Volunteer having served in Kenya under the Ministry of Health as an HIV/AIDS education and prevention volunteer, where she helped provide Traditional Birth Attendants with kits needed to perform safe deliveries and assisted in training those attendants. After being evacuated from Kenya due to political turmoil, Maya served under the Ministry of Health in Lesotho (Southern Africa) as an HIV/AIDS education/prevention and youth development volunteer. While in Peace Corps Lesotho Maya helped HIV positive mothers learn how to better care for themselves and their newborns through nutrition and women’s health education. She helped begin two Libraries within her rural community of Nazareth, Lesotho and ran diversity camps throughout the country. Contact: mwashington@advocacynet.org



What is your caste?

10 Jul

This is a question that has been asked of me on several occasions since I arrived in Dhankuta. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the caste system in Nepal (mainly based on India’s) but I think I’m a bit confused at the moment…

When I tell people that the United States doesn’t have a caste system but instead people are either rich, upper middle-class, middle-class, lower middle-class, or poor and though it’s difficult people are allowed through education to traverse those classes. Even writing it out makes me question the honesty behind my statement. The truth is, most people would like to believe that the United States doesn’t have a caste a system but we most certainly do; we just don’t call it that.

I’ve learned a bit since being here about Nepal’s caste system. They have four major castes or varnas named as follows: BrahminKshatriyaVaishya and Sudra. The Brahmin include teachers priests, politicians/leaders, healers etc… The Kshatriya include the warriors and protectors of the people. The Vaishya are traders and landowners and the Sudra tend to be the servants and considered lower-class members of society. Additionally, there are the Dalits (untouchables) who are below the Sudras and considered to be so polluted that they are regarded as outside the caste system entirely. 

Nepal has attempted to heal some of the pain and economic disadvantage of the Dalits and Sudras by offering programs similar to what we in the United States my compare to Affirmative Action. I met a young woman while in Dhankuta who was a recipient of some of this assistance and currently works as a nurse at one of the local clinics. Her attitude towards life reminds me a great deal of an African American youth unsure of whether or not he/she truly belongs in a school, job or other environment; always making sure she says the right things, wears the right clothes and doesn’t offend.

I see her often and she always wants to talk and practice her english. I wish I could tell her that things get better and one day she’ll be comfortable with the world she lives in but I don’t know that that’s true. What I do know is the United States does have a caste system.

We just don’t call it that.

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This is a question that has been asked of me on several occasions since I arrived in Dhankuta. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the caste system in Nepal (mainly based on India’s) but I think I’m a bit confused at the moment…<\/p>

When I tell people that the United States doesn’t have a caste system but instead people are either rich, upper middle-class, middle-class, lower middle-class, or poor and though it’s difficult people are allowed through education to traverse those classes. Even writing it out makes me question the honesty behind my statement. The truth is, most people would like to believe that the United States doesn’t have a caste a system but we most certainly do; we just don’t call it that.<\/p>

I’ve learned a bit since being here about Nepal’s caste system. They have four major castes or varnas named as follows: Brahmin, <\/span>Kshatriya, <\/span>Vaishya and <\/span>Sudra. The Brahmin include teachers priests, politicians\/leaders, healers etc… The Kshatriya include the warriors and protectors of the people. The Vaishya are traders and landowners and the Sudra tend to be the servants and considered lower-class members of society. Additionally, there are the Dalits (untouchables) who are below the Sudras and considered to be so polluted that they are regarded as outside the caste system entirely. <\/p>

Nepal has attempted to heal some of the pain and economic disadvantage of the Dalits and Sudras by offering programs similar to what we in the United States my compare to Affirmative Action. I met a young woman while in Dhankuta who was a recipient of some of this assistance and currently works as a nurse at one of the local clinics. Her attitude towards life reminds me a great deal of an African American youth unsure of whether or not he\/she truly belongs in a school, job or other environment; always making sure she says the right things, wears the right clothes and doesn’t offend.<\/p>

I see her often and she always wants to talk and practice her english. I wish I could tell her that things get better and one day she’ll be comfortable with the world she lives in but I don’t know that that’s true. What I do know is the United States does have a caste system.<\/p>

We just don’t call it that.<\/p>

<\/p>\n”,”class”:””}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Maya Washington (Nepal)

Posted Jul 10th, 2015

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