An Open Letter to My Grade IX Students

– Himal KC

Dear students,

Today, I am writing to express my joy, satisfaction, and our class’s success in particular. I am writing to express how pleased I am to have completed a minor but important task successfully. This task would not have been completed if you had not actively participated. If we had started with your textbook, I would have been staring at you for failing to get you to understand the meaning of a simple word. We challenged our traditional approach and began our journey to discover exactly what was required of us.

Dear students, learning vocabulary is one of the most important aspects of learning a language. Most of you probably don’t recall when you first learned to speak your first language. I want to mention the fact that while calling your parents, you made a lot of mistakes. Being so small at the time, you did not feel embarrassed. Spada (2007) claims that children younger than three years old do not speak in grammatically correct sentences. Children pick up language because they are not aware of their errors. Their primary goal is to tell their elders what they need. According to Nicholas and Starks (2014), Language learning cannot be skill oriented. Children do not learn their first language as you are learning English now. They only focus on words to communicate. I hope you understand the fundamental concept of language learning.

I wanted to share my reflection so that your juniors will be motivated to learn English in the coming academic year. Your success story can inspire others who are struggling to learn basic English words. Sharing reflection can support both the teacher and the students. Reflection is an integral part of the learning process (Hedberg, 2009). I am sure you have understood why I wanted to share my reflection.

Now, let me remind you of how we began our first class this academic session. In class, I assigned a simple task. Except for your two friends, you all struggled to read the text. I was devastated and couldn’t figure out why you were so poor at reading. I told you to put the book down, but I could see your unhappy faces. You had to be wondering how I was going to finish your course at the end of this session. But you knew what I was going to do when I wrote 50 words on the whiteboard. Because the words had short spellings, you all seemed excited. When I asked you to spell and pronounce the words the next day, only ten of you could. That day, I was upset with you because you couldn’t pronounce words like ‘us,’ ‘use,’ and ‘as’ correctly. You looked comfortable when we repeated the words.

What was the turning point in your vocabulary-learning journey? I believe it was the day I announced a spelling contest in our class. I gave you 100 useful words for the spelling contest. We hadn’t touched our books in 25 classes. You were shocked when I named the groups ‘translation,’ ‘comfort,’ ‘communication,’ and so on. You must have realized why I named the groups in that manner. I wanted you to remember a word without having to think about it. On the day of our first spelling context, I was overjoyed. It was a proper spelling contest with a tie-breaker. We spent five periods on the spelling contest, and in the end, a tie-breaker was required in the final. You all remembered the words quickly. You picked up the spellings and uses of words.

Now, at the end of this letter, I want to share some important vocabulary-learning tips with you. I believe you recall what I said after the spelling contest finals. I advised you to use the words in your writing to help you remember them. You wrote a short paragraph that contained a few grammatical errors but don’t worry, you will learn basic grammar later. I must remind you that learning grammar is also important. Sound grammatical knowledge makes you smarter. We will have fun in our next class. Goodbye for now.


  • Hedberg, P. R. (2009). the Reflective Manager. Journal of Management Education, 33(1), 10–36.
  • Nicholas, H., & Starks, D. (2014). Language education and applied linguistics: Bridging the two fields. In  Language Education and Applied Linguistics: Bridging the Two Fields.
  • Spada, N. (2007). How Languages are Learned. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 15(2).

Making Students Work Smart: My Signature Pedagogy

–  Anouska Poudel

In my one year of teaching English literature to children in grade seven, I learned more than I thought I would as a teacher. After growing out of my school years and losing my sense of childhood, I had forgotten how interactive and bright children are. I had forgotten how intelligent and creative they are. I believe that the most important thing I learned is not to judge people younger than me based on their lack of knowledge, but rather as people who have an understanding of the world. George W. Bright claims that one of the largest barriers teachers face in understanding children’s thinking is prematurely concluding what the children comprehend based on their answers to one or two problems (Bright, 1996). This is so true about my earlier understanding of students.

According to Shulman, there are three fundamental dimensions that professionals must keep in mind; and they are to think, perform, and act with integrity. He describes signature pedagogies as forms of instruction that come to mind about the preparation of members of particular professions (Shulman, 2005). Pedagogy organizes the fundamental ways to educate future practitioners for their new professions. He claims that pedagogical signatures can also teach people a lot about “the personalities, dispositions, and cultures of their fields” (Shulman, 2005). Distinctive signature pedagogies must be invented for the field of education to study ‘educational practice, educating students, and preparing them for distinctive forms of professional practice’ (Olsen & Clark, 2009).

I was assigned to teach Jane Eyre and a few poems and short stories from Oxford Reading Circle. I was told to teach the version of Jane Eyre that was abridged by Maple Press,  and they had a version at the school. However, the circumstances were not in my favor and before they provided me with the book, the school had to close down due to COVID-19 protocols. We were stuck to our laptops for an unknown period. It was my first time teaching, so I was rather intimidated.  But I knew the book.  I had my interpretation of the novel and, most importantly, I knew what kind of a teacher I was expected to be.

I started the class by introducing myself. I told them my interests and highlighted the hobbies they would be interested in, such as watching Japanese Anime, movies about Superheroes, fantasy novels that I devoured, and art. I know from experience with other children that they will listen to the teacher only out of duties to the school, and not out of interest. And sometimes, some children do not even feel that kind of responsibility for such duties. I wanted them to listen out of interest, and sharing those things had done the trick. Turning the video on for our online classes was mandatory, and I saw the children perking up at this news. I saw that they had accepted me and were now listening.

I asked them to introduce themselves and they shared everything with me. Even the shy ones were able to tell me about their hobbies without feeling the fear of being judged. I gave each one their own time even though we were short of time.  Once the children seemed comfortable in the class and knew that the environment in my class would be friendly, I proceeded to introduce the book to them.

The first thing that I noticed when I was told to teach Jane Eyre was that it had a lot of themes that the children would be unfamiliar with. It was a completely different country set in the Victorian era, something they might not even have heard of. I assembled a bunch of videos that I showed them to introduce the era, the aesthetics that people preferred, and the social context of the author. This is the link to the video in the picture:–HwdI8&t=26s

Some of the videos were short enough, so I showed them in class.  So, instead of making it a task that was difficult and required full attention, I told them that they could play it in the background while they drew or played a video game. Because of this, I realized that many of the children had actually listened to the videos and knew what I was talking about when I talked about how the Brontes were brought up. I liked to give the children 5 to 10 minutes to answer some questions that I could put forward about those. Some of the questions are as follows:

      1. What do you predict the story of Jane Eyre is going to be about based on the videos?
      2. What do you think of the clothes that these people are wearing?
      3. What important lessons do you think Charlotte Bronte can teach you?
      4. Do you recognize the culture of this time as similar to your own?

I asked the students first to write directly to me in the chat box so that none of them copied each other’s answers. Then I asked them if any of them were interested in reading their answers aloud. Many of them were. I also made a habit of listing the people who raised their hands to speak up. This way, I was able to segregate the students who were willing to speak up and those who were not. For the first few days, I allowed students who were not confident to speak up to stay silent. I did not want to force them into situations where they were not comfortable. But after a few classes, I called their names and asked them to read their answers. They were hesitant at first, but when they realized that their own interpretations were allowed in the class, they became more comfortable with the idea of sharing.

I was introduced to the idea of ‘world Englishes’. It was very interesting and liberating as much as empowering. The term ‘Englishes’ is meant to symbolize the alterations in structure and role of the varieties of the English language that are used in linguistically and culturally distinctive contexts. It symbolizes the vast range of literary creativity coming from these distinctive contexts (Kachru, 1996). English had long become a tool or a weapon to colonize or to help colonize countries around the world. It is a very post-colonial school of thought that allows us to make English our own and not a language that was used against us as a weapon. English has become the key to employment and thus financial empowerment in the state and private sectors (Rahman, 2002).

Because of my familiarity with the discussions about world Englishes, I do not focus on accents. I believe that if their speech is understandable, there is no reason to change the way a person speaks. For me, the focus became on the individual pronunciation of the words because these were still children who were ages eleven to thirteen. They were still confused about words like imminent and eminent, insure and assure, effect and affect, and so on. Because of this, I made the children read a few paragraphs. Many of the children loved reading aloud and, thus, raised their hands a lot, but there were also children who refused to volunteer. So I whipped out my list and called the names of the ones who had not raised their hands to read. I did not interrupt when they made mistakes in pronunciation but while I was explaining, I would emphasize the words that were difficult to pronounce.

In my experience, teachers in Nepal believe that the more homework you give, the better it is for the child because the child will be too busy to be distracted. I experienced this as a child and I was told this by the coordinator of the school. He insisted time and again that I should have given larger amounts of homework that required a longer period of time to complete. There were two particular reasons for which I completely disagreed with this idea.

As much as I believe in hard work, I also believe in working smart. I do not believe that writing six pages for a question is the best way to learn for children of this age. For one thing, their knowledge system is not as varied as a person with a master’s degree and their stock of vocabulary is too small to fill up such long pages. They end up copying everything from the book, from their friends, or from the Internet.

The second reason was: If a child dedicates almost twelve hours of their day to school, how will they develop other skills that they require to become a healthy-minded adult? I remember that as a child I was fortunate to have a school that ended early in the day, where I finished my short but exciting homework quickly and dedicated my time to my hobbies. This allowed me to become all right there and discover my passion for writing. It allowed me to grow a completely different skill that I use properly to this day.

As a result of this, I did not resort to giving extensive homework or assignments to the children. Rather than that, I gave out fun little activities that they could do as Generation Z. There were some assignments I gave:

      1. List the differences between a woman of the Victorian Era and women of today. (Pictures are optional)
      2. Draw Jane as a child using the descriptions from the book.
      3. Compare John Reed to another fictional character you know from other books or movies.
      4. Imagine you were Bessie and write what you would have done to Jane when she cried in the Red Room.

I gave each assignment a gap of three days so that they could discuss them with their friends. When I received the finished assignments, I checked for copied answers. If there were any, I asked them to do them again or they would not be graded.

This article is a reflection of how I prepared and performed in a classroom to teach seventh graders the book, Jane Eyre. Looking back at the activities and the interactions I have had, I am very satisfied with the amount I have been able to teach.


    • Bright, G. W. (1996). Understanding Children’s Reasoning. Teaching Children Mathematics, 18-22.
    • Dinkmeyer, D. (1961). Understanding Children’s Behavior. The Elementary School Journal, 314-316.
    • Kachru, B. B. (1996). World Englishes: Agony and Ecstasy. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 135-155.
    • Olsen, K., & Clark, C. M. (2009). A Signature Pedagogy in Doctoral Education: The Leader-Scholar Community. Educational Researcher, 216-221.
    • Rahman, T. (2002). Language, Power and Ideology. Economic and Political Weekly, 4556-4560.
    • Shulman, L. S. (2005). Signature Pedagogies in the Professions. Daedalus, 52-59.

[Ms. Poudel is pursuing M Phil at School of Education, Kathmandu University.]

How I Developed My Signature Pedagogy

– Ramita Deuja

I was really fascinated when I heard the phrase ‘my signature pedagogy’ from my professor for the first time in my M.Phil. third semester class. Enthusiastically, I made myself clear about what it meant. I understood it as a unique pedagogical invention that we have been practicing in our workplace. Other might have used the same technique but not the way I have been using it. Then I started reflecting on my own practices. I could not assure myself whether the practices that I used long back were my own. So, I started visiting my recent strategies. To be honest, I have been trying so many new strategies to motivate my students. Among all the strategies, I find the strategies of writing a daily diary as a tool for writing improvement is the one that I could claim I have been using differently. Besides, I could claim it to be giving positive results. Aren’t you curious to know, how I started, applied, and brought a positive change in students’ writing skills?

You may not believe me if I tell you that I started diary writing without any plan. It was truly unplanned! I vividly remember the day; it was raining gently during summer. I entered the class confidently. However, it was not well planned.  I asked the fifth grader, ‘How many of you like to enjoy the rain?’  In no time, almost everyone raised their hands. I told them that we would go out and enjoy the rain just for 30 seconds. The class was filled with laughter and excitement. Shouting and running, my innocent 5th graders flew to the paved area close to our upper ground just beside grade five. They tilted their heads to the sky and drank raindrops with full enjoyment. You can’t even imagine how excited they were. Neighboring students stared at me with lots of questions. I took them inside. You are much aware of students’ traits and reluctance, aren’t you? Well the next day, I was a little scared that any parents would complain about the act I conducted.

You must be surprised why I am explaining the incidents. That day I taught nothing. No homework from the textbook. So, I asked them to write a diary of that particular day. The following day, they handed me the original, creative writing with detailed explanations about all the excitement they experienced. I read some of the writing. Stunned, loved, and felt sorry all at the same time. Stunned by their creativity mainly in titles such as ‘The best day’, ‘I drank rain water’, ‘wonderful day’ and so many new words. Loved the way they thanked me for giving them an opportunity to enjoy rain for the first time. Finally, sorry for being too late to realize their need and interest. I dropped the book instantly and decided to share their writing. I stimulated those who didn’t write at home. I helped a few struggling students. I made some of my students help their seat partners finish the task.

The next day, I told them to write what they did, learned, and felt. It was going well. However, I decided to write a sample. So, I wrote my own diary including all the excitement that I collected with them. I skipped all the everyday stuff like getting up early and drinking tea. Then, I asked them to follow the same pattern. Most of the students followed. I reminded a few of them the next day. Every day, I encouraged them with feedback on the same issue time and again. Most of them committed mistakes in the use of tenses. I wrote the words correctly on the board. Patiently, I continued the same activities for a week forgetting course completion and exam. They documented their experience of, ‘Shopping Day’, ‘Outing day’, ‘Swimming Day’, ‘Result Day’, ‘Sad day’, ‘Picnic Day’, ‘Children’s Day’ and so many days. Most importantly, their outstanding word selection to address the diary overwhelmed me; ‘My lovely diary, My cutie, My dear bestie, and Good Night with Emoji. Reading their diary, I realized they have now made the diary their best friend. They shared all kinds of emotions without any hesitation as in the sample. Most importantly, Emoji they made in each writing revealed a visual representation of their happiness. The boy on Children’s Day was so happy about getting chocolates and prizes, whereas others represented their feelings through Emojis.

Diary writing continuously for a long time, sharing their writing and positive feedback stimulated them to write whenever they felt something interesting. I realized the strategy really worked when one of the parents shared that her son doesn’t go to bed until he writes in his diary. Most interestingly, they did not allow their parents to read their writing. But they wanted me to read it in the class as I often read with voice modulation, which I feel they loved. Besides, the students’ happy faces and their excitement to share their writing, I sensed, were the evidence of my success in all the activities I did.

You might be astonished by the way they learned to write. They dramatically learned language skills and aspects in an integrative way. They develop creativity and critical thinking in their writing. They learned to use new words and phrases. They became attentive enough to grasp words and phrases from friends’ writing. They felt free to ask the term to express in English. Some of the students even mixed the languages. I accepted it, to encourage them to write. Similarly, I developed the concept of past tense words and sentences through their sentences. However, I paid less attention to the grammar aspect. I addressed the immediate grammar-related issues. Diary writing practice familiarized them with the V-2 form of most of the words we use in our everyday conversation.

Finally, I love to state that the pedagogy I developed is my signature pedagogy. Although some of the ELT teachers practiced the strategy earlier, none of them to my knowledge may have used it continuously for a long time with the same commitment to change learners’ writing traits and skills together.

[Ms. Deuja is pursuing her M Phil at School of Education]


Know Thy Mentor

A Conversation with Prof. Bivek Baral

– Anusha Gyawali, Shephalika Dhakal and Saugat Bastola


How was your journey as a student?

I was an above-average student during my school. I was more interested in developing my general knowledge than deeply burying myself in the textbooks only. Apart from interest in science, I had interest in paleoanthropology, anthropology, history, and culture.  I enjoyed my primary and secondary school days with a number of achievements in academics, quiz contests, debate competitions, and sports. Happy schooldays also had some exceptions of nasty incidents, with one of the notorious teachers of mathematics whose severe corporal punishment led me to lose my interest in the subject. It took very long to regain my interest in that very important subject. This incident made me realize that if a teacher is not good enough, a student goes through what I had experienced.  After I overcame the mental trauma, I was a fine student again.

Is there something you wish you knew when you started college?

When I started studying at KU, I was almost halfway to my Bachelor of Commerce degree. Soon after I completed my ISC, there were no other options to study engineering except in Pulchowk Campus, which had B.E. program in civil engineering only. Another option was to go to India to study other streams in engineering. But I was in a great dilemma whether to go there or not. Before deciding about joining KU or even knowing about the engineering program offered by KU, I was studying BCom in Biratnagar with the advice of my friends, to ultimately become a chartered accountant. I didn’t know about KU. The condition at that time was not as today. Newspaper was the only way to know about admissions notice. The first batch had already been enrolled when I came to know about KU and I decided to continue BCom.  However, somehow, I knew that I was not born to be a CA as my deep interest was to pursue my career in engineering or architecture. Basically, since I was a late starter at KU, I had enough consideration about my future career, studying at KU was a well-thought thing.

Do you consider any of your teachers as your mentor? Could you share one memorable experience with that person?

I consider my mother with my father in the background as my mentor. She gave me various books — widely available and inexpensive Russian translated books on literature, astronomy, and anthropology. Generally, mothers are the first mentors for everyone. However, whatever character I have and whatever knowledge I have today on various subjects is due to her persuasion to read.

Among many, one whom I consider my school-time mentor, was Jibanath Dhamala. It was he who nurtured my interest in general knowledge and trained me to become a quiz master of Biratnagar. I remember an incident in class 6 when he guided our team to compete in a quiz contest with various schools and clubs of the Eastern Region. We were the winner despite being the youngest lads. I saw in his eyes the sparkle of happiness and satisfaction. He was happier than all of us in the team. In building my overall personality, he provided me with the first stepping-stone.

What/Who inspired you to become a better version of yourself? In what ways has he or she helped you?

Even after my undergraduate studies, I was a passive person, without a strong ambition for my future career and studies. We had a teacher duo of Chemistry in KU at that time, Durga P Acharya and Rupak Aryal. Durga sir was my teacher during my first year and Rupak was a senior. Both of them had a very strong urge for academic enhancement. They would constantly remind me to aim high and try for further studies. At that time my horizon or wish to study was limited to getting admitted to a good engineering institute in India. They however constantly motivated me to look beyond and persuaded me to apply to the University of Tokyo, which was among world’s top 10 universities. Rupak provided me with all the academic materials to write a competitive proposal for the application. I worked hard and was successful in obtaining the prestigious Monbukagakusho scholarship to study at the University of Tokyo. I think this to be the biggest turning point in my life. I started believing in myself and started believing that hard work is the only key to success. Had I not had the duo’s motivation, I wouldn’t have been where I am now.

Could you tell us about any incident that led you to choose a specific direction in life? Were there any mentors involved in the decision-making process?

I would like to again mention the duo for creating such an important transition in my life. I was an engineering student of the second batch of a newly established university. The university, with all sorts of limitations in engineering education, tried to provide us with the knowledge that it could. I did not have enough confidence to compete with the graduates of other countries. I used to think that the world had gone much higher in the field. But the duo always encouraged me to dream higher and go for it. “It would be great if you go to some technologically advanced country, learn and serve your nation with the learnings after you return.” I still remember these words which actually forged a turning phase in my life.

A teacher, a professor, PhD Supervisor or whatever I am today, I do consider myself being a blueprint of Professor Robert Raine, who was my Guru in New Zealand. By seeing him, I came to realize what an ideal teacher is like. I tend to motivate my students the way he motivated me and also nurture the strengths the way he did mine. It is obvious that a student may not perform well every time. Even in such situations, he never lost his patience. He used to consider every work of mine as our work. His behavior directed me to make my personality even stronger.

What is the role/impact of the first few batches in the growth and establishment of academic programs in a university? What is your observation about Mechanical Engineering in particular, and other engineering programs in general?

In KU there was a trend to hire young faculties amongst its own graduates. There were and are many faculties who studied undergraduate in KU. All of them contributed their heart and sweat to uplift the quality of education in KU, expand physical infrastructure and introduce new undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Mechanical Engineering faculties including myself, Sunil Lohani, Biraj Singh Thapa were from the pioneer batches. We, along with other faculties who joined in later years, have been continuously associated with the department since graduation and working our best to provide quality education in mechanical engineering. There are similar examples in other departments as well. However, the instance of contribution of mechanical engineering graduates of KU is highly significant.

In those years the students used to sense some paucity, the paucity of infrastructures in KU in comparison to those of Pulchowk Campus. Though there was not a huge difference in time of establishment of the mechanical labs in these two organizations, the lab at Pulchowk was much more advanced. To make up for the shortage, the way the alumni contributed was very appreciable.

What first got you into the teaching profession? Did your passion for teaching change over time?

During my final year of undergraduate studies, I started thinking about my career and prospective direction. My teachers, Bhola Thapa and Brijesh Adhikari, suggested that I think about my career in academia and motivated me to apply to KU after my graduation. Teaching, which needed constant learning, was my passion. It was my passion then and my passion has not changed at all over time. It has rather got stronger. My passion always makes me work hard when I teach or supervise and I am always motivated to motivate the prospective engineers.

Do you try to connect with every student you teach? How do you assess the students that require the most attention?

I do try to connect with every student in many possible ways; that is by knowing them with their names, their academic performances, their strengths and weaknesses. I refer to their past academic records and accounts from their previous lecturers. This enables me to adopt certain methods in teaching and mentoring which makes them perform better. I try to personally connect to each individual possibly. I provide them with my contact information, so that they can connect with me when they need my guidance. Without making them feel that I am giving them more attention because of their weakness, I try to approach them.

How much do you value relationships with your students and what part of it do you value the most?

I greatly value the relationship with the students. Afterall we are under the same professional fraternity. The only difference will be that of the number of years of experience. I feel that there are always human values in any relationship. It is also true about teachers and students. In my relationship with the students I emphasize mutual trust, respect, affection, care, guidance and gratitude.

What is the best part of mentoring?

Mentorship is needed basically for your own better version. Good mentorship is that if you are good at something, you will be better at that. Seeing any individual I mentored, at a level uplifting and being capable on their own, provides me an immense satisfaction. Once, a student used to score rather low grades. I tried and was able to motivate him enough. Surprisingly, he secured very good marks in my subject and later did great in other subjects as well. When the mentorship you provide reflects through the increased capability of the mentee, it is the best part of mentoring.

Do you have a favorite success story for one of your students?

There are a lot of them, actually. I had a student who now runs manufacturing industry. His company has been recently involved in the construction of hydro mechanical system of hydropower projects of 5- 20 MW capacity. There are more than a few of these examples.

But the most memorable one was a student who went to the US for higher studies. After his graduation he applied for a job there and then gave me a call after he got it. He thanked me because, apparently, the things he was asked in the job interview was mostly what he had learnt in the bachelor’s level. He said he just recalled it from when I taught him and answered those questions.  It felt like a precious reward for my work when a student I had taught 5-6 years ago remembered me and my lecture which was very useful to him to secure the job.

As a hostel warden, you might have had opportunities to connect with students in a much deeper level. Can you share with us any mentorship roles you performed while you were the warden of the KU boys’ hostel?

I was actually not a good mentor as a warden. The reason might be that I myself was very young at the time. The hostellers were young, too. In those days, being a good hostel warden was all about being strict. I didn’t have much experience either. I wasn’t really aware of the whole concept of mentorship. I did fulfill my responsibilities, but in hindsight, I could have done so much better.

I think I need to admit that I did the job just for the sake of doing it. I couldn’t do any noteworthy work in terms of mentorship. But I didn’t know any better.

“University now and then”: will you comment on this based on your perception, struggles, and experiences?

Our university has definitely grown in terms of infrastructure, number of students and programs There’s no doubt about it. But I feel that much of the growth is only in the “hardware” part. The “software” part of the university is still the same old version. The attitude towards academics hasn’t improved in a way it should. It might sound harsh but it is the truth.

In 2004, there was a university in Bhutan that had just started running an engineering program. In 2013, they came to KU to learn the experience of KU in engineering education. They wanted to know how we grew over the years. Recently, in February, I went to the same university and taught there for about a month. I can say from what I saw that they have been doing better by their commitment and focus on technical education. The quality of delivery in KU hasn’t changed as much as it should have considering the amount of resources available at present. We still have a lot of room for improvement.

How are you different from or similar to your mentors?

When I was doing my masters in Japan, I had the opportunity of working with a mentor. But I didn’t really adopt much of that mentorship experience in my methods because mentorship there is still authoritative. It was mostly about following instructions and there was hardly any practice of arguing with anything the mentor said.

In New Zealand, however, it was completely different. My mentor was a graduate of one of the most prestigious universities of England, and it totally reflected on his mentorship approach. He always motivated me and taught me to highlight my strengths. He asked me to believe in myself. Whenever I said something based on some other references, he always nudged me to develop my own opinion on the matter. And when I showed some reluctance, he constantly reminded me to believe in myself. He gave me confidence and my method of mentoring at present is mostly based on that experience.

Do you have something you wish you had done differently?

Not really. I am satisfied with everything I did. Everything has come to me at the right time. I don’t really have much regret about what I did or didn’t do. I am happy with everything that happened and where it has led me to.

In your point of view, what might be the attributes to become a mentor?

Speaking from my experience, the connection between mentor and mentee should be the key attribute. The mentor has to be a professional, but he or she also should be able to maintain a human connection with the mentee.

This should be better in the context of Nepal because our culture itself considers that human factor. For an ideal mentorship, the connection is the key part. There is a saying that ‘Ph.D. is like a marriage’.

Apart from this, a mentor should be able to highlight the mentee’s strengths. Rather than just criticizing the mistakes and failures, a mentor should focus on a motivating environment.

So, yes, the key attributes for me as a mentor would be the ability to maintain a good connection with the mentee, highlight his strengths, and motivate them.

How does the work environment affect mentorship?

The work environment has major effects on the whole mentorship process. If I were in a better environment, I feel that I would have been more creative in the way I mentor my students. The connection is simple. If I am motivated, I will be able to motivate others better.

As a good mentor, the pressure and limitations I have must not reflect on my behavior towards the student. There is that part as well. But the work environment, definitely, shapes the mentorship ability.

Currently, I am in a position where I also have to, in a way, advocate the management’s roles and responsibilities in making a better work environment to the leaders of this University. I do this as the member of the University Senate. Once the working environment becomes better, it will resonate to the lowest level. I will be better able to motivate my students and they will also benefit directly.

Mentors don’t have to be necessarily a best friend, parent, or coach. What is your point of view in the statement? Can anyone be a mentor?

As I have already said before, I see my mother as a mentor. She laid the foundation of my interest in various subjects. But not only friends or teachers, anyone can be your mentor.

Rupak Aryal, the one I mentioned before as well, was a chemistry teacher. I was a mechanical engineering student. So, there was no link in our career path. Yet during our commute to university, we found a way to speak and connect with each other. He had a positive mindset. As he was senior to me, he used to share his experiences regarding his career. The things he said have influenced me and the path I choose in many different ways.

So, yes, your mentors need not necessarily be a parent or a teacher or a friend.

Mentors, or authority holders in general, are sometimes misunderstood by the students. Do you agree with this? Are there any incidences that come to your mind when you try to comply with this statement?

Yes, I do have experience regarding this. I recall a particular incident during my tenure at SWC. As you are familiar, there is a lot of student politics in the SWC. A student from environmental science was a bit of a hardliner. He mistook the suggestions I gave him and even threatened me. I was also a bit dissatisfied, but I didn’t lose my composure. I simply told him that he would not understand the things I am saying but, in the future, once he gains the experience, he will subscribe to what I was talking about then. Not so long ago, I met him in a forum and he was apologetic about that incident.

I don’t have these kinds of experiences with students of mechanical engineering because they are like junior colleagues and friends to me. As a teacher, there will be some disagreements. Sometimes, I might be hard on them, some other times a student might argue with me. These are part of the learning and mentorship process. I normally don’t even remember these arguments let alone hold a grudge against any students.





Career Counseling Begins at Home

    – Sabin Bikram Pant


Education begins at home, a common phrase that we have been hearing since our childhood. But now the time has come to modify this phrase, Career Counseling also begins at home.

In one of the surveys carried out in USA recently, a question was asked “What are their greatest regrets in life. Good number of people responded as “I wish I would’ve followed my dreams when I was in my late teens and deciding what I wanted to take in University. Had I made the decision to believe in myself — my talents, my passions, and my dreams; my life would be very different today”. The moral of the story is; career counseling is the very important part of a child’s life and it needs to begin at home.

So now the problem is – how do we ensure that our child is on right path in terms of their career? In other words, do their area of interest really represent their attitude, value, and behavior? For example, one of the issues that we regularly face when a student comes to us and asks, should I take marketing or finance as a major in my BBA/MBA?  Our child may ask the same question to us. They may also ask us should I take Science or Commerce after completing +2 exams. What will be our answer? The answer that we will give may shape their future right or wrong – their future is at stake. So how do we respond to them? We have a tendency that we take these questions very lightly and answer casually. This is the first mistake we make.

The fact is child’s career decision, or lack thereof, can impact not only the child but the parents as well. While peers largely influence our children on matters such as music or dress, research indicates that overall, parents are still the most significant influencing factor when it comes to a child’s career decision. It’s important to have career discussions with our children. Followings are few tips which may help us to understand the interest and behavior of our child.

Try to understand the behavior, value and interest of your children.

Let me explain with an example. When students come to me and ask should I take marketing as a major or finance, I respond with a set of questions; who are you? Do you like to interact with people? Do you feel awkward while taking to group of friends and families during a classroom or social gathering? Do you like to play with the numbers? Which section of news paper do you like most? Is it money or economic sections or general section? How often you participated in extra / co circular activates? Do you like to work in a team or alone? The reasons for asking these questions are very simple. Because based on their response, we can fairly make an educated guess about the personality of a person. If they feel awkward while taking group of people, they may be not good at marketing. This is just an example and may not necessarily be true all the time. But what really matters is to observe our child’s changing behavior, value and interest over the period of time.

It is extremely important to note that, our child’s interest and behavior changes over the period time. During the school days, they may be very shy person but now they may be comfortable talking to people. Similarly, it is common to see that they have different career goal in different phase of their life. For example, during their teens, they may want to be a doctor or an engineer but now at 16, they may want to be an entrepreneur. By the time they reach 20, they have completely different career goal. Do not discourage them from dreaming of what they want to be in the future. Let them explore, in fact encourage them to explore so that they themselves figure out what they actually want. However, make sure to help them in the process and don’t just sit out on the other side of the fence. Most importantly, when you help them in the process, make sure to have complete understanding of your child’s changing behavior, value and interest.

Try to be open minded

There is a chance that you may have always wanted your child to own your own business or may have beliefs that since I am lawyer my son/ daughter also needs to be a lawyer.  Understand that values (i.e., what an individual determines to be important) are critical determinants of career satisfaction and career longevity. We need to help our children explore what is important to him or her, and changes in the values. Importantly we need to be prepared for the possibility of a conflict of values between us and our child. A difference in values can be a learning experience for both parents and the child. As tough as it sometimes is, we need to try to be open minded and listen rather than judge. Research shows that most of the time children listen very seriously to an open minded parents rather than imposing parents.

Do not compare

The number one mistake parents do is to compare between our child, his or her siblings and friends and even yourself. The statement “when I was your age…” will likely undermine your child’s feelings and experiences. I have seen lots of students who get frustrated due to this very reason. Making comparisons doesn’t help our child to understand his or her experiences nor does it necessarily provide him/her with an opportunity to learn more about themselves or possible career options. It can be great for us to share your experiences with our child, but let him/her develop and learn from their own experiences too.

Stay updated

How updated are we in terms of job market? Do we know what the trend is in job market? When we teach students, we want to make sure that whatever concept and practices that we are teaching must be relevant for at least coming five to ten years. We are trying to prepare our students for future based on past trends. Therefore, if we are well into our own career or haven’t experienced a recent career shift, we may not have noticed some of the trends affecting our child’s career development. It’s important that our child make career decisions based on current and future trends, and not the past trends.

Encourage them to participate in the Extra Curricular Activities and Volunteer Work

Job market and doing business is not easy toady as it used to be. In the past we had only few options available and it was not as highly competitive as it is today. Therefore, getting university degree, is of course a necessary condition but not sufficient condition. My experience as a Coordinator of Placement Cell in Kathmandu University School of Management and experience from my corporate experience, companies give high value for those who have good attitude and other soft skills. Hence, apart from good university degree, companies are looking at people who possess good soft. Soft skills refer to personalities, attributes, qualities and personal behavior of individuals. Good university degree may help our child to bring them at interview table but to get selected from interview; they must have some soft skills. Schools and university teach lots of concepts and theories to our child but there are few things that our child needs to learn apart from course books. These are known as soft skills. Some soft skills can be learnt from the regular studies in the classrooms, but there are, definitely many things they need to learn from outside their classrooms. Allowing our child to participate in the extra circular activates and volunteer works will help them to increase their skills of working in a team, ability to work under pressure, increase communication skills, problem-solving skills and most importantly it raises their self esteem, Many times, our child feel that they are worthless or there is nothing that they are good at. Involvement in extra circular activities will help them discover themselves and eventually it will help to increase their positive attitude. These skills will not only make them stand out of the crowd but also help them while they choose their career

Finally: Listen, Listen and Listen 

We must recognize that fact that each person is unique, so it stands to reason that our child’s career development will similarly be unique. As a parent, we always have the best of intentions when it comes to our child and his or her career decisions. It’s important to recognize that our child may have their own definitions of success and happiness. Therefore, my suggestion is; be an active listener. The listening process involves five stages: receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering, and responding. We have a tendency to take things easily when it comes to our child’s opinion because they are our child and we always think that we know better than them. Therefore, most of the time, we directly jump to the last part i.e. responding without understanding and evaluating, I have a experience that students frequently visits to me say that their parents do not listen to them and it is frustrating. Therefore, we must listen and listen very actively even though we know that you may have some reservations on his/her opinion. Active listening gives very positive signals to our child and it will be easy for you to explain him/her about the pros and cons of his/her opinion. If we are active listener, the good thing is, most of the time, our child also listen to us.

Career decision making is a dynamic process; it is subjected to chance and isn’t only about making one choice. As a parent and as a teacher, we are well positioned to be one of the strongest allies and one of the greatest career decision making supports in our child’s / student’s life. Therefore, as a parent and a teacher, let us be a very active listener at the same time, be curious, be understanding, and most of all, be patient.

Meditation on Aging

– Narayan Niroula

The term aging imprints the wrinkled face of humans in my mind. They could be parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers or anybody. Human understanding has it that only elderly people can be aging; therefore, an impression of older ones comes into mind. Does aging denote getting weaker nearing death or culminating experience of life ? A harsh reality is that aging comes along with birth. To mean aging, we need to understand the entire course of life; either your life or someone else(Moody, 2006).

The book Evolutionary Biology of Aging  offers aging definition as continuous decline of fitness due to internal physiological deterioration(Ross, 1994). Physical shrink and loss of life is inevitable. Palpability of life degrades as a person grows older. What about the other side of the story ? If humans take aging as distancing from last year’s age to future age, they create a aloofness. The more distancing, the more the gap widens. Is the gap a difference in behavior and values? If so, “we have to deal with paradoxes such as absence of gap in major values but presence of gap in minor values”(Troll, 1972, p.348).

Aging is subjective terminology in social science and objective term for biological science. Biologically speaking, aging can best be understood as detuning during the first part of adulthood due to gradual decline of internal forces of natural selection and when such declines stop, aging ultimately ceases(Rose et al., 2012). Stopping aging denotes end of life. Socially speaking,

there is thus no scientific justification for assuming that each and every type of physiological deterioration that has been associated with aging must continue without remit throughout late adult life.This realization leads to another fundamental change in our thinking about “the process of aging”: it is not actually     a physiological process, in and of itself(Rose et al., 2012, p.1).

Chalise(2019) wrote “aging is classified as biological aging, psychological aging, social aging, chronological aging and functional aging”(p.8).  Generational consciousness has become more advanced than before to describe aging. Aging has been considered to evaluate by more physiological and biological evidence. It becomes important to look into aging from a more sociopsycho perspective. Aging is a psychological phenomena when “I” plays an important role to trick you as an older or a younger person.

Getting older is aging as society understands it. Aging has been understood this way because that is the observation of the society. From behavior and value’s point of view, the older generation can not do much further. Aging creates a divide between older and newer generations. I do not perceive it as an issue as the term is coined to explain the difference between demography, workplace culture, and attitude, usage of language and technical knowledge and skill.

To me, change in consciousness is aging, regardless of the age. A child can transition to adulthood by a higher level of consciousness. It is the consciousness that brings aging early or later. As a matter of fact, aging is an element of the system we are already corporated in.“In sum , the trend in birth rate, death rate and the flow of cohorts all contribute to population aging, what makes matters complicated is that all three trend can happen simultaneously”(Moody, Prologue xxiii).

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”(Henry Ford’s Quote). Hormonal change sourcing from  knowledgeable activities keeps one mentally fit. You need to be childlike to learn more from your surroundings.(Osho discourse, Child’s sensory organs are open without social clothes of hypocrisy. It is upto the person who wants to stay older or younger. Aging is a relative understanding of psychic structure in association with the universe. I would like to bring eagle rebirth story here by AECT president to his employee:

The eagle has the longest life span among birds. In its 40s, the eagle’s long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey and their long and sharp beaks become bent. Their old-aged and heavy wings (due to thick feathers) become stuck to their chest making it difficult to fly. At this point, eagles are left with two options: die or go through a painful process of change that lasts 150 days. The change process requires that the eagle fly to a mountain top, build a nest, and proceed to knock its beak against a rock until it is gone. The eagle uses the rocks to destroy their useless talons and then waits for them to grow back. Emaciated now, when the talons have grown back, the eagle starts plucking the matted feathers from its chest and wings. THEN, after five long months, the eagle takes flight in a rebirth and lives for 30 more years!(Persichetti, 2016).

Imagine, if the eagle admits the end of life in 40 years and does nothing. Psychological aging appears to be more important than physiological one  in Eagles’ case. Empirical life of humans provides a deeper understanding  of aging. Does the experience of life not bring many other things together with it?

Closing eyes please remember your childhood, open your eyes and look in the mirror. Is that you who were born so and so years ago? Activity Theory of aging believes that aged citizens become more happier in social interaction and successful aging takes place(Havighurst,1961). Aging is the entire course of life to recollect into a short package. It helps to comprehend the phenomena in life. Aging is a feeling in tranquility. Human recollects his/her past about the long course of life and smiles at herself/himself if success has been obtained, disappointing otherwise.

Experience from aging people can be better spoken in front of people than in writing. It takes gestures and body language to share with. Younger generation learns by aged ones. Aging makes a history the younger better learn from. It is the aging that constitutes lifetime consequences ; the matter of successful aging or unsuccessful is upto the social activity of the person. Aging collects  randomly existing events of life. Humans may not care about the existence of randomness(Taleb, 2005). Finally, aging is acceptance of existence.


  • Chalise, Hom Nath. (2019). Aging: Basic Concept. American Journal of Biomedical Science & Research. 1. 10.34297/AJBSR.2019.01.000503.
  • Havighurst RJ (1961) Successful aging. Gerontologist.
  • Moody, H. R. (2006). Aging: Concepts and controversies. Pine Forge Press.
  • Persichitte, K.A. Rebirth. TechTrends 60, 304 (2016).
  • Rose, M., Flatt, T., Graves Jr, J. L., Greer, L. F., Martinez, D. E., Matos, M., … & Shahrestani, P. (2012). What is aging?. Frontiers in genetics, 3, 134.
  • Rose, M. R. (1994). Evolutionary biology of aging. Oxford University Press on Demand.
  • Taleb, N. (2005). Fooled by randomness: The hidden role of chance in life and in the markets (Vol. 1). Random House Incorporated.
  • Troll, L. E. (1972). Is parent-child conflict what we mean by the generation gap. The Family Coordinator, 21(3), 347-349.

Meet Thy Mentor: Dr. Uttam Budhathoki

A Conversation with Anusha Gyawali, Shephalika Dhakal and Saugat Bastola



How was your journey as a student? 

My residence was on the outskirts of Kirtipur. At that time, there was no school around my home. So, I had to go to the market area for my schooling. I completed my education up to grade seven from Bagh Bhairabh Secondary School in Naya Bazar, Kirtipur. I appeared for the SLC exam from Laboratory School, Kirtipur. After that, I did my ISc in St. Xavier’s College, Maitighar, and the rest until PhD in Kathmandu University. After that, for six months, I was at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, for my post-doctoral degree.

I was among the top 3 students throughout the years in my school. However, I don’t call myself a bright kid in my school because I don’t think I did as much as I could have.

Is there something you wish you knew when you started college?

When I went to St. Xavier’s College for ISc, I felt a huge transition. There were strict rules and regulations. A significant challenge for me was to manage time. They had a rule where students were only allowed to enter until 9 AM. Anyone who happened to arrive after 9 was sent to the principal’s office and given a late slip. Time was never an issue in my school as it was relatively nearer and I used to go by bicycle. Time came as a burden to me in the college. Since I had to travel far and had to use a local bus, I was often late. So, later, I had to rent a room and stay in Kupondole alone  to manage time.

That’s one thing that I wish I did something about.

Another thing is, I couldn’t score well at the beginning of my I.Sc. One of the reasons might be because I was in a challenging environment. Most of the students from the so-called ‘top 10 rank’  in SLC were there competing with me. Moreover, I had typhoid during the exams. Because of all these, I didn’t score well. And that is one of the things I wish I could change.

Do you consider any of your teachers your mentors? Could you share one memorable experience with that person? 

One of them is Professor B.S. Rao. He was the Head of the Department of Pharmacy until 2004. There was a lot of crisis in the department at the time. All the teachers had resigned due to problems in remuneration. At such a time, he worked with everything he had, brought teachers from India, and kept the Department from collapsing. He is one of the reasons the Department is at the state that it is today. I learned a lot from him, not only as a teacher but also his skills in management and how he handled all the pressure.

Another person that I consider to be one of my mentors is Prof. Dr. Panna Thapa. He taught me in my Masters. He guided me through every essential aspect of my research, and I am very thankful I had him as my mentor.

The third person I consider a vital mentor is Professor Ellaiah Poluri from Andhra University, one of my PhD. supervisors. If I didn’t have his supervision, it wouldn’t be possible for me to complete my PhD. I went to  Andhra University, Visakhapatnam with my thesis. I was staying in a hotel on the first day. But he invited me to stay at his own home. It turns out, he used to let all his PhD. students stay there. He devoted a lot of time and effort, which groomed my thesis entirely.

Professor Stephen Wolfi at Heidelberg University is another person whom I consider an essential mentor. I  got the Erasmus Mundus scholarship for my post-doc, but I wasn’t sure where to go. I wrote him an email, and he called me there. I didn’t have much experience here in the lab, even if I had done PhD because the lab setup wasn’t up to the mark at that time. So, he assigned a person just to guide me with the lab works.

These four people are the ones who I absolutely cannot forget to mention. I believe that there is still a lot to learn, and I will hopefully have more people who will guide me. But so far, these people have played important roles in guiding me through my learning experiences.

What/Who inspired you to become a better version of yourself? In what ways he or she has helped you?

My father is the one who I consider my idol. He was a person who was very keen to learn. By profession, he was a cook. Although he didn’t have formal education, he learned the English language and took training to become the chief cook in the American Embassy, for First Secretary. He struggled a lot, and maybe that’s the reason he always said that he would spend everything on our education.

He had the pain of not being able to get formal education. He went through a lot, and had big dreams for us. That was always his sole focus. His teachings have always stuck with me. I still remember, he always told me not to waste time roaming around. He said that if I studied well, I would go around the world. I recall this every time I go abroad, which is, as he correctly predicted, a lot.

Could you tell us about any incident that led you to choose a specific direction in life? Were there any mentors involved in the decision-making process?

By the fourth year of my Bachelor’s degree, I was sure I wanted to be a teacher. In the fourth year,  two teachers were responsible for all of our subjects! I was very interested in teaching, too. I used to finish studying and help my friends study even during exams. I had expressed this intention to the Department as well. I was in National Healthcare Pvt Ltd, Birgunj, for my internship. That is when I got a call from the Department asking me to come to teach.

I hadn’t even finished my Bachelor’s degree, and I was already offered a job from 3 different companies. That’s how much shortage of human resources there was in pharmacy. I could’ve easily enter the industry. But I knew what I wanted, so I came back to the University, through a terrible storm and traffic on the way due to which I barely even made it on time for my interview and joined immediately.


How was your journey as a teacher and how did your passion for teaching change over time?

I and Rajani Shakya, who is currently the Head of the Department of Pharmacy, joined the Department together as Teaching Assistant back in 2000. In the beginning, we were not allowed to teach. Rather Rao sir gave us the task of calculating chemical stock and setting up the lab. After that, we started working as lab assistants. Maybe eventually Rao sir saw potential on us, maybe it was because of the human resource crisis in the Department, we were given classes.

I worked and taught as a Teaching Assistant for about 3 years. Then I became a Lecturer and eventually an Assistant Professor. I worked as an Assistant Professor for about 11 years and was finally promoted to Associate Professor.

During these years, I started to enjoy teaching. The most memorable part and the hardest times of the journey were during my Master’s and PhD. I was a full-time teacher then. During my PhD, I and my colleagues used to give lectures from 9 to 4. After 4, we worked on our research and projects around 2 to 3 in the morning, slept for a bit, and went for the class again at 9 in the morning. These were pretty tough times.

I still recall the time when my abstract was accepted for a conference in India. I had to collect data for the presentation. Since research culture was not a thing in Nepal — we still haven’t developed such culture — I had to work through the night in the lab alone. The next morning I designed a poster in PowerPoint and went to Putalisadak and got the banner printed and left for India immediately.

There are many incidences like these. There was a lot of struggle and tough times. The way to reach where I am was not easy. In between, I started to like and enjoy the profession.

How do you treat your students? How do you assess which students require the most attention?

Having taught for 20 years, I can easily assess the students that are weak in class, and the students that require my attention. My lectures are also focused on such students. I constantly check whether students are attentive in my classes. Recently, I have given them an assignment that cannot be solved just by the content of the slides. I have explained the assignment in my class. Just before this interview, I received a call from a student. He complained he could not find any hints in the slide.

The lectures I give involve concepts of mathematical modeling. In the online classes, I have been teaching using a touch pen. I know the students are having problems understanding the classes. I am continuously raising this issue in the Department. The talented students can learn themselves if resources are available. But for weak students, I know my lectures haven’t been effective.

Having experienced the problems regarding time management myself, I am very strict on students’ punctuality. I don’t allow them to enter the class after the allocated time. This is also because students entering in between the lecture distract the class and might deviate me from the content I was delivering. There are some instances when I have even sent students out of the class. I believe that students must understand that there are specific behaviors that will not be tolerated in class. Like every other teacher,  I also watch every student in the class that I am teaching. If they show behaviors that are not acceptable to me, I will give them a penalty. Excusing such activities means encouraging students to amplify those actions. It is best to put a stop to it early.

Apart from the classes, how often do you stay in touch with the students?

Other than in the class, I love interacting with the students, knowing their perspectives, and helping them in their problems. I am the coordinator of the departmental student club. Even during the pandemic, I am frequently organizing online meetings to stay in touch with the students.

I usually spend maximum time with the students of Bachelor’s and Master’s involved in the projects. Because I had faced difficulties while conducting research, I know the problems they will face. As I have said before, research culture is still to develop in Nepal. Students are not given additional training and workshops. We do not have enough facilities as well. So, as a supervisor, I and my other colleagues have to find a way to deal with these problems.

When supervising these students, I target that at least one article each from Bachelor’s and Master’s gets published.

In twenty years of your professional career, you have taught many students. Could you share with us some of your experiences when you have felt proud of the students you mentored?

There are many incidences where I have felt proud of my students. I recall an incident when I went to Australia with my wife for her PhD. My students found out that I was arriving there. They assisted me in finding accommodation and setting up the room. Well, I don’t mean I was proud because they helped me but because I knew that they were studying at a university in Australia. It makes me happy when I find my students wherever I go. If they know I am coming to the place where they currently live, they reach out to me. This gives me immense pleasure.

Some of my former students are faculties in the Pharmacy Department of KU, some are studying abroad and some are even involved in multinational companies. So, whenever our products achieve something great, it is natural we become proud of them.

What is the best part of mentoring? Have you ever been called a mentor?

Well, some people have openly called me their mentor and others have hinted that I was their mentor. I have learned about it indirectly from their parents or relatives. Some students even comment that “If it had not been for Uttam sir, I would not have been this apt in these subjects”.

I constantly collect anonymous feedback. I get some ideas about how students receive me from there as well. I also get negative feedback now and then; some of them are academic and others personal. The personal comments maybe because of some harsh decisions I have taken. I even had to disqualify  students from taking the end semester examinations due to their repeated negligence about their attendance after repeated warnings.

Apart from this harsh decision, there are many events I reminisce. Once when I was returning from India, I got stuck in Mahendranagar due to traffic disturbance. There was a diploma college in which I got an opportunity to take a class. One of the students of that class later joined for a Master’s in a college at Kathmandu. He remembered me from that one class I took way back and expressed his gratitude. It was a very emotional moment for me.


Besides studies, do you have something you wish you had done differently?

Besides studies, I can predict easily where the students feel trouble in doing their research and projects. I feel that I could not learn enough even during my PhD. But I got to visit different places. When I was in Australia for about six months, I got a chance to contribute to The University of Tasmania as a Casual Academic Officer (CAO). My work was to supervise MPharm students in their dissertation. I came to realize what things were lacking for learning here in our country.

Technological advancement has reached a peak.  But here we are still following traditional ways of performing any research. If given knowledge and access to different software, it will reduce time and direct the performance productively. As a CAO, I was given access to that software where I could learn and now I can train my students. New techniques in any work increase the productivity of the work. So, proper training needs to be provided to students by detecting their problems and providing them with noble solutions. I believe if anybody is assigned to do the work in the traditional manner, it is going to be a sloth’s race.

Why are our data not published but rejected? It’s because of the lack of reliability in ‘Quality of work’. No matter how much effort one gives to the work, the final product always depends on the quality of setup that we have. Because of the lack of setup, we lack quality and hence failure in replication done by renowned journals. So far from the experiences that I learned during my international exposure, I feel that I am not being able to bring most of my learning into practice because of the lack of setup and facilities. If I could bring at least some of the things that I saw and learned during my learning phases, it would mean a lot.

In your point of view, what might be the attributes to become a mentor?

I consider experience one of the important attributes besides knowledge. Furthermore, resources are equally important for good mentoring. In my opinion, “Mentoring is a two-way process”.  The mentee needs to be equally enthusiastic as the mentor.

How does the work environment affect mentorship?

The academic environment surely does affect mentorship. As I already mentioned that resources and their mobilization create a certain type of environment. For instance, in a team, if some people are working very vibrantly for any research-based activities, it automatically creates an environment for other members to actively participate at the same pace. But in absence of the research environment, it is likely for all of the members to get less engaged in their works. Besides, other factors such as health play an important role. I consider myself very lucky to be able to survive after the stroke because, in most of the cases similar to mine,  people go to a coma,  or even lose their ability to speak. Sometimes here at Kathmandu University, sometimes I suffer because of my health issues. I have a project to handle but I am not capable of working by going into the lab because I am not independent fully. But it has never been the matter that got me into depression. At least I am able to perform my personal activities by myself and go to the places wherever I want if I get any support. Even in this condition, I have attended two international conferences as a speaker; one in India and another in Bangladesh. I feel very grateful for whatever I have done so far. So yes! Health has obviously a greater impact as well.

Mentors don’t necessarily have to be parents, or coaches. What is your point of view in the statement? Can anyone be a mentor?

Yes, anybody can. There was my roommate when I was studying B Pharm, who has now established an industry of his own. As I am only engaged in teaching, I do not have enough knowledge for practical implications for any problems. So, while I design any projects, I communicate with him frequently for better practical knowledge on the problems and what industries are looking for. I am generating ideas from him considering him a mentor. Hence, anyone can be a mentor. It is not a matter of compulsion whether the mentor needs to be a coach or a teacher or any of the family members.

Do you want to share anything from your experience throughout the journey of mentoring and being mentored?

When I look back at my life and the struggles I had, I realize that I worked with loyalty and with no greater expectations. My motto is: “Let’s move on the cycle of life, anything that is to come will surely come!” Most people pre-plan each and every activity and their consequences for the future and move accordingly. If they could not meet their plans, they get frustrated. But this thing never came to me. Satisfaction is the greatest achievement.  So, without having greater expectations, if one focuses on the work, they will certainly succeed and this will ultimately result in satisfaction.

[Dr. Budhathoki is Associate Professor at Dept. of Pharmacy. Anusha, Shephalika and Saugat are pursuing BBIS in School of Management.]

On Mentors

– Dr. Niraj Poudyal

By mentor, I mean a person who innately, habitually and unswervingly shows me the path towards mokchya, whatever that may mean. A mentor can see his (yes, my patriarchal mind!) dreams realized in the eyes of his pupils. Hopes of mentor’s heart gets teleported to the steps of his pupil. I rarely prefer using adjectives or prefixes in front of words such as god, mentor, mother and capitalism. This essay is one of those rare moments. At least as a demi-mentor myself, I have seen my dreams sparkling in the eyes of my students. When they take a step forward towards mokchya, I feel a tiny bit of my dream fulfilled. An archaic thirst quenched.

I feel that I have failed to learn certain important lessons because of the lack of a mentor (no adjectives here!). I think I have learned basics of quantum mechanics without mentors assuming that books do not fall under the definition. I have failed to write well even with the help of excellent mentors around. This piece can be taken as my best writing ever. I have failed to learn music. Despite having seemingly good mentors, I have failed to learn using my failures to avoid more failures. Repeating same failures has become my way of life. In the absence of a mentor, I have not been able to figure out the prudent purpose my life. I have not been able to make sense of my “spiritual” experience. I am not blaming everything I have not been able to learn on mentors that I do not have.

Do I need a mentor in my life? I don’t know. Probably, I need a mentor to know. I already had many momentary mentors mentoring me on special skills of mathematics and computing, modeling and narration. Sometimes, I wonder about the first mentor, mentor of all the mentors. Having a rubbish life definitely does not require any mentor. In that sense, I feel we are all at least partially mentored for partially rubbish lives we all have.

I do not know about animals other than humans, but humans I know of definitely are capable of judiciously running their lives and their loved one’s lives with or without a mentor. Assuming of course that they did not have invisible master yogis as their mentors. Can human malevolence be sharpened with the help of a ruthlessly determined mentor? Can munificence in our hearts be revealed and enhanced by an inspirational and enlightened mentor? What roles mentors played when their pupils discovered antibiotics that saved billions of dreamful lives or declared non-violence not just as an approach towards life but a sanctified end in itself? Who mentored Buddha or Galileo to search for something beyond their reach!

Let us assume, we need a mentor to have a good life, however we define a good life. What kind of mentor do I want? Actually, I have a dream to have a mentor who can go beyond the concrete wall of numbers I have been trapped into. I want the mentor to be able to make me find and peruse the temporary meaning of my own life. I have already declared emptiness to be the ultimate meaning of life. I am not worried for the ultimate meaning for I already know it. The net meaning or value of life is zero. I need a momentary meaning. In the midst of such a disastrous conclusion, I want my mentor to either change this zero-sum game of my life into a non-zero sum (hopefully positive sum) game or give me a temporary game having some non-zero sum meaning. I want to play this non-zero sum game once and for all; I am scared if it’s not yet too late to play this unknown game.

I will not focus on who will be the most appropriate mentor. I would rather talk about what characteristics I want for the mentor of my dream. Is the mentor going to be him or her? Being an obvious child of a patriarchal upbringing, I have already imagined a he-mentor. A she-mentor is not even in the horizon of my dream full of he-mentors, appropriate and inappropriate.

Do I want long white/dark beard on my mentor? Do I want a young enlightened laughing guru or an old experienced smiling guru? Do I want a guru who is continuously pushing the limits of human physiology by living an austere life, a life full of pain and yet devoid of suffering? Do I want a guru who renounced ignorance after enjoying all that ignorance can offer? Or a guru who was groomed to be a guru since the beginning? Do I want a mentor who had another mentor or should I just go for a mentor by his own making?

I know some mentors who declare taking the burden of responsibility as key to having meaning in life. Is that the type of mentor I want? Should I scrutinize if the mentor himself is applying this principle in his own life? Or just getting a map of such life is enough?

More questions about mentors than answers!! Someone truly said, questions are always better mentors than answers.

I have not even started talking about mentoring yet. Which is more important: mentor or mentoring? Finding a mentor is actually no more than defining a mentor. Adjusting your definition of mentor and mentoring can give you the mentor you are looking for. If I am not able to find the mentor, it only exposes the rigidity of my definition of a mentor. But changing the definition can have wild consequences. I may end up with a tree mentor, a sky mentor, a book mentor or an experience mentor.

Enough with hanging between the conservative rigidity of my definition and the liberal risk of turning everything with an identity into mentors. Mentoring seems to be a much easier and safer task than finding a mentor. Good luck for those who are looking for their mentors.

[The author is Assistant Professor at School of Arts.]

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