WOW | Coffee Break

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Interviewed by: Anushka Shrestha
Photo file: Gokul Shrees
Location: Chimes Restaurant, Sanepa

Sometimes life takes you to unexpected places and love brings you home. With the growing number of Nepalese youth settling abroad, WOW talks to a few young entrepreneurs who chased their dreams in distant lands but knew their way back to home.

Why do you think the majority of Nepali youth do not want to return after completing their studies abroad?

Astha: As most organisations in Nepal don’t prefer change, a younger person’s opinion is not encouraged by senior executives. This can be frustrating for young minds. Also, the salary does not justify the education they have obtained.

Anuj: Studying abroad requires a lot of money and it’s difficult to recoup the investment while working in Nepal. Secondly, our society tends to categorise people who return as someone incapable of establishing themselves abroad.

From your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad?

Taijash: The only disadvantage is that we often cannot implement the concept we have learnt abroad.

Astha: One of the biggest advantages is that you get a lot of exposure. You get the opportunity to discover yourself while gaining an understanding of a different culture. However, when you are abroad you are on your own. You won’t have the network or the connections that you have in Nepal. You have to learn to adapt.

Anuj: Studying abroad has influenced my interests and career trajectory. I was able to discover my calibre and potential beyond the examination scores. The only disadvantage was that what I learnt in Nepal was not applicable there.

Bisheshta: I have friends who have completed their education in Nepal. I can see a significant line of difference between them and me in the process of critical thinking. Most of them think things on a very surficial level and are not very inquisitive about things that are beyond the ground. They are least bothered about things and that attitude is ingrained in them. That’s one of the biggest differences I see in terms of education. Abroad we didn’t have to be stressed out about examinations. It was more about indulging in things that we were passionate about. The cons would be that it is not always about experience and professional grooming. From taking care of yourself when you are sick to cooking for yourself, you have to do it all by yourself. But that attitude builds you as a person and demarcates you from the crowd. Being away from your country in itself is a disadvantage.

What difference do you find in the work culture?

Taijash: The working system here is a big challenge, people are not aware of how things work globally. Also, the biggest problem is lack of professionalism.

Astha: For me it’s all about understanding the market, whether it’s local or international. I think we just need to make the best of what resources we have.

Anuj: Before starting my own venture, I worked for five years in different companies in Nepal. From this I learnt that the concept of work culture is entirely misunderstood. There should be a culture where people work not just because they have to but they enjoy what they do. Also, there is lack of perks and a lot of office politics which demotivates workers.

Bisheshta: I had come here after my Bachelor’s degree to gain some experience before I started my Masters. It was quite tough because here people very much want to get involved in your personal matters as well. When I was working in the UN in Thailand, things were very professional. You had a protocol and you wouldn’t go beyond that. Your personal life is your personal life and that’s what I really like. The only thing that was challenging for me there was credentials. You work on a document for years and when it gets published, it just has your name really small on it.

Why did you decide to come back?

Taijash: I never had the intention to live abroad. I just moved out for a certain time to gain the skills that I couldn’t learn here. For me it was always about what can I get back and how can I adapt it into Nepal’s scenario.

Astha: I never planned to settle abroad, however the course I took was quite new to our country. People still don’t know about product or industrial designing here. So, I just wanted to come back and make people aware of what I have learnt.

Anuj: People would not recognise me for my achievements there. Here, I would garner appreciation for my work.

Bisheshta: When I was in the States and Thailand, I had very good job opportunities as I work in international development areas. But I always knew that I had to come back. I thought to myself that even if I come back to Nepal after 10-15 years I will have to start from zero. So, why not go back now and start from zero right away.

How can brain drain be converted into wisdom gain?

Taijash: Brain Drain as a concept is really not a bad thing. When people go out they actually learn something and get the exposure that they are unable to get in their hometown. However, we need to provide young professionals a platform to implement their knowledge from the overseas exposure.

Anuj: By developing a better environment for the youth in terms of finance, living standards and professional growth.

Bisheshta: Brain Drain has very positive connotations to many things. Specially in liquifying borders by adding culture and everything and coming together because nowadays we don’t believe in individual wisdom. We are more inclined to adding and being diverse, and bringing all of that together will only add value to Nepal’s economy as well. So, I think it is a positive thing when people actually opt to go abroad, study and come back.