Experience at ACJ by a Nepali Student

Testimony Kathmandu, Nepal - 22nd July 2012

My Experience at the ACJ

By Smita Magar


It is said, only after experiencing darkness you can appreciate light. Indeed!

Being a girl and belonging to the almost forgotten district of the nation - Rukum,  in early 1990s, girls education was unheard of. I was the first girl from my village to join school. Though few more girls joined, till my 5th grade I was the only girl in my class. Civil war on rise didn't help the situation. The terror and lack of teachers in school left just-budding acceptance of girls education in society; crushed. Almost all the girls had to dropout. However, I had brothers in Kathmandu where I was able to continue my study. In the capital city, it was safer. But, heartbreaking as it still is, I realized the government and urban people's indifference towards what was happening in rural parts of the country.

It was only after the 'people's war' spread out from my district Rukum and Rolpa to different parts of the country, city dwellers felt its terror. The war became more intense and there was not a day when media didn't have news on clashes and deaths. During those days, I realized the soft-power of journalism: the information it carries and the way it can wake up people from their deep slumber of ignorance. That was when I developed the passion for this soft-power that can change the society without bloodshed.

My determination to be a good journalist became even more stronger after the end of civil war. As, I came to understand, it's not the only war that is scary. Scarier is the scars of war that live on to haunt us. War doesn't end with a mere declaration of peace. The consequences it has are equally devastating. Hence, I have always dreamt to be able to dig these deepest and darkest consequences war has on people's dreams so that at least we can try harder for a peaceful world. Therefore, I aspire to be the post war and conflict reporter, especially focusing on rural areas.

But, it’s not easy. In my early age I realized that dreams are costly. During insurgency, I was lucky to have choice but I saw how my fellow sisters' struggled to hang on to dreams of continuing their education. At the end, circumstances and instability in the country made it too costly and they had to choose between their survival or their future. This is why I know in my society education didn't come easy, especially for girls. I am thankful for the opportunity, I got to realize my dreams beyond the borders with SAF Madanjeet Singh Scholarship at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. It has been like a window for me, from where I could see the outside world.

When you overcome the weather (heat and humidity), the college environment is very cozy. At the same time I got the opportunity to meet people from all around India and all of them bring so much of cultural diversity. It was great experience to meet them and share our thoughts, aspirations and dreams together. Knowing them and learning little of everything made me realize though certain things are different between us, in heart, we are all human beings and we just need an open mind to understand, respect and co-exist. However, in the college, the subjects, lectures and teaching methods have been very different experience from what I was exposed to. The professors are erudite, learned and they are best at what they do. I have learned so much from them that I will be indebted, forever. Not only in my academic front but they also helped me in developing my confidence and believing that I can do better. I am thankful for every information, knowledge and encouragement they shared. The city, college, my professors and friends – with them, I learned to form a strong sense of solidarity towards different societies and cultures which dissolved my prior prejudices.

Therefore, I feel very fortunate to have had an opportunity to study at the ACJ. The program has given me an important opportunity in the continuing quest for more knowledge and exposure. I have a long way to go but, this year has been the most crucial time of my life, for my dreams and for my future. So, receiving the Madanjeet Singh Scholarship for 2011 – 2012 from Nepal to complete my Post Graduate Diploma at Asian College of Journalism in Chennai, India has been a lifetime opportunity: for learning, for international exposure and personality building!

And, I am very thankful for that.