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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

Why is Nepal’s top export people?

As I was standing on the roof of my house last night, my homestay brother pointed at the north star. He enthusiastically proclaimed, “That’s the brightest star, so it’s the most successful star.” Then he pointed at another star, it was so dull you could barely see it, and told me, “that’s me right now, but someday,” he promised, “I’ll become just as bright and successful as the north star.” Trying to understand what he had meant by this, I asked him how he planned on becoming successful. To my surprise he told me that he was going to improve his English and then he would be successful. This could have been just some eleven year old meaningless jumble, but I was taken back by his answer and didn’t quite know how to respond. Why should English be the key to success? If we’re in Nepal, shouldn’t people be able to be successful using just their mother tongue?

It’s a problem that I’ve heard almost every guest speaker talk about, one in four Nepali citizens are living and working outside of Nepal. Why in a country with so many natural goods, is the top export people? In a short simplified answer, the reason is development. Because of health improvements in Nepal the infant mortality rate started dropping dramatically in 1990, going from 91.5 out of every 1000 births to 26.6 out of every 1000 births last year. Thus, almost 50% of their population is under the age of 25 and there are simply not enough jobs. Many young people travel to places like Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and India to work and send money back home to their families. Although the money sent back to Nepal is very important to families, many children are starting to see their future outside of Nepal instead of staying.

However, when we discuss these topics, I always feel helpless. Is there really anything I can do about it? Is there anything anyone can do? I agree with those who say the answer is to keep educating the youth in Nepal. But I’d also argue that that doesn’t matter unless there are opportunities being created for them later on; otherwise they’ll only see their success outside of the country. I also believe that other people outside of Nepal should be aware of the changes happening here. Even though I’ve only been here for a short time I can see the progressive changes and opportunities happening, and I hope that soon the export or people shifts to an import.