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Nepalese student gives back

Social work student gives back to earthquake-ravaged homeland.

Aarati Ghimire was born and raised in Nepal, but moved to the U.S. six years ago. Admitted to the University of Utah College of Social Work, her dream is to become a social worker to help those in need. When a devastating earthquake struck her home country last year, she felt drawn to go home to put her newly acquired social work skills to the test.

Nepal 1008She received a Hinckley Global Scholarship from the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, and was able to embark on a practicum in Nepal through an internship at CHOICE Humanitarian, a non-profit that helps communities develop tools to become self-sustainable.

She spoke to @TheU from Nepal about her time in the country this semester.

Q: As a U student, what made you want to travel to Nepal? What have you been doing there?

A:  When I started my career in the social work field, I always dreamt of going back to Nepal to serve my nation. The need for social work in the western world and the developing world is different. Having been exposed to the realities of a developing nation like Nepal —where people go through the struggles of finding basic needs such as food, housing and clothing — I know and understand the desperation of people in Nepal to often meet basic needs. When the massive earthquake happened in April 2015, I was even more determined to give service to the nation where I was born.

I have been working as an intern with CHOICE Humanitarian. I have been helping out with the earthquake relief project on the ground as well as assisting with their administrative work. Some of my work includes facilitating hygiene classes at schools in the villages, working as a translator for CHOICE’s partners, and creating real life stories from the field for communication purposes.

I also got involved with an orphanage and another non-profit called Bookmandu, which is book exchange for people in need. I have been involved with Bookmandu for the last four years and before returning to Nepal for my internship, I did a fundraising in the U.S. I raised $1,200 dollars before arriving, and now that money is being used to maintain a public library opened at one of the remote villages in Nepal called Ramkot. I also worked with an orphanage and was able to furnish two of room with carpet for the children.
Q: How has this helped your educational experience?

A:  As a social work student, rather than going towards the clinical side of this field, I want to work on the macro level. This internship was a nice blend of working at a macro level with the community and rural sector.  It also helped me enhance my leadership skills and provided me the experience of working on a global platform with an international non-profit.
Q:  The Hinckley Institute and College of Social Work helped to coordinate your experience in Nepal. How did they help facilitate the process, and can you speak to how that facilitation enhanced your learning opportunities as a U student?

A: I really appreciate Courtney McBeth (associate director at the Hinckley Institute of Politics) and Ruth Gerritsen-McKane, director of BSW field education at the College of Social Work, for helping to set this up for me. They both knew how much I wanted to do my practicum in Nepal and my love for social work. Long story short, The Hinckley Institute introduced me to CHOICE Humanitarian and the College of Social Work supported the idea of me doing the social work practicum in Nepal. I went through all the interviews and process of the internship and got accepted as an intern for CHOICE.

Q:  What’s next for you?  When will you graduate?  Also, what are your future goals?

A: I applied to the MSW advance standing program at the U before I left, and may start the program next summer. I graduate this spring with my BSW and want to start a master’s program. One of my biggest dreams for the future is to be able to work for the United Nations or an international non-profit (something similar to this internship, but on a larger platform as a social worker). I know it sounds like a pretty big goal, but the more I get engaged with the community on a global platform, the more my passions grow for the people in countries like Nepal where needs are great.

Lastly, this internship has helped me grow as a person and a professional in the social work field. One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned from this internship is to never limit yourself. The world is always in need of good deeds, service and kind people. Any help is help.