Building a life – and a community – through education
When I first found out that I was going to a boarding school in Canada, I remember asking Shirley, our school director in Nepal, many questions about what my new school would be like. She told me that it looked like Hogwarts. I had eagerly read all the Harry Potter series and was overjoyed at the thought of going to a school that looked like the magical school. My best friend (who was also offered a scholarship at another school near Toronto) and I, dreamed about what our schools would be like and what our lives might be after we joined these schools. Many people ask me now after having finished my four years at BSS, if it was what I imagined. It has been everything that I imagined it would be and more.
Just the other day, I had dinner with Wendy SUN ’10, one of my roommates from Boarding. We were reminiscing about BSS and what our life used to be like. I look at my BSS years as one of the fondest and most life-changing experiences.
BSS has opened many doors for me. Through support from BSS and BSS parents like the Kololians, I have been able to pursue my dreams. One of them was building a health clinic in my village, Nar. When I was at BSS, my friends and I fundraised by organizing a car wash. In the summers, in collaboration with local doctors in Nepal, I organized medical camps. In 2013, as students at St. Lawrence University, my friends and I applied for the Davis Peace Project grant to build the clinic. We won the grant and were able to see my dream realized. Currently, it serves around 500 people in Nar and surrounding villages. I was able to fulfill another dream in 2014 when I graduated from St. Lawrence University and became the first college graduate in my family. None of these achievements would have been possible without BSS supporters who believed in girls’ education.
My school in Nepal as well as BSS has instilled in me a sense of responsibility towards my community. In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of re-evaluating and adjusting my goals and dreams, but one thing has always remained constant – giving back to my country. I would like to be able to champion and create opportunities at home in the same way that so many people have done for me. I am currently working at a law firm in Virginia. I would like to go to law school in a couple of years. I am still figuring out the best way I can contribute at home. One thing I know for sure is that education can be a powerful agent to empower and bring opportunities to people in my communities that have been marginalized for many years. Himalayan communities in Nepal lack representation in all aspects of our society. We need entrepreneurs, politicians, artists and economists. We have intelligent, hardworking and resilient people but we lack opportunities. I consider myself one of the luckiest children to have grown up in Nepal because of the educational journey. I hope to do the same for children in Nepal.
When I reflect on my experiences, I think about so many amazing turns my life has taken. One missed turn and my life would have been no different from many girls in my village. Some of the girls that grew up in my neighbourhood are parents now. We were all curious, smart, but also mischievous children who ran around the village chasing the goats and sheep. Even so, the doors that are open for me are no longer an option for them. The only difference is opportunity. It only takes one person to believe in a child and give them the opportunity of a lifetime. In my case, I was extremely lucky to have my uncle, the Kololians (my host family while I was at BSS and one of the BSS parents who supported me), the BSS community, and people around the world who believed in education and supported my school in Nepal. As another year commences, I urge the BSS community to continue supporting and championing opportunities through financial assistance. It has opened a whole new world for me – literally and figuratively. We can change the world one scholarship at a time.
By Dolma Lama ’10
Dolma Lama attended BSS from 2006 to 2010 on a scholarship supported by ten BSS parents. After BSS, she won a full scholarship to attend St. Lawrence University and graduated with a Global Studies and Government major in 2014. She currently lives in Washington, DC.
Pictured above, Dolma at her graduation from St.Lawrence University in Canton, New York with uncle Tsering Khamsung (far left) and BSS parent supporters Susie and Vahan Kololian (on the right).