December 17, 2015
When an earthquake shook Nepal on April 25, 2015, it was confirmed: Nirvana Thakur '18, then a first-year student at Susquehanna, knew she wanted to go there. More accurately, she wanted to return.
Born and raised in Nepal until the age of 13, Thakur already knew that she wanted to work in Nepal some day.
"The earthquake confirmed my decision to go back to Nepal," says Thakur, who is now from Elmhurst, N.Y. "I wanted to go help my family and my community." She was offered a three-month internship at the NGO Saathi that summer. In the head office in Kathmandu, she helped in the post-earthquake effort, working in camps that Saathi set up. She also created brochures and case studies of victims of gender-based violence, led stress-relieving exercises for kids in several camps, and worked with women who had lost their homes.
"I liked working with children, leading fun activities and spending time with them," she says. "My biggest challenge was hearing about the experience that the victims in our women's shelter went through."
Her experience in Nepal relates to her interests at Susquehanna, where she is an international studies major, focusing on diplomacy. She plans to add a major in women's studies. Thakur currently works as an intern in the Women's Resource Center, where she writes newsletters about women's issues. She is also vice president of the Asian Cultural Association and a member of the Belly Dance Circle.
After graduation, Thakur wants to attend graduate school, but she eventually plans to return to Nepal and work in the nonprofit sector focusing on gender equality. Though sometimes difficult, her experience in Nepal has taught her valuable lessons, she says.
"The most important thing that I got out of the experience is the positivity and dedication that the victims living in the women's shelter had."