During the last few days of my stay in Nepal in September I was invited to a talk program at the Limbuwan Study Center. Though I was slightly hesitant about the talk in the beginning, there was a bigger part of me that wanted to do it as I knew it would be introducing ‘lexlimbu’ and ‘Tracing Nepal’ to a new demographic and also an opportunity to meet the young, old, educated and experienced members of the Limbuwan Study Center.
It has only been in the past few years that I’ve yearned to learn more about my Limbu heritage and it’s illustrious history.
My talk focused largely on and around Tracing Nepal and it’s establishment. The root cause behind the making of our travel program is based fundamentally on ‘identity’ and the question of ‘home’. I believe that is something which many attendees appreciated during the talk. Personally, I felt challenged for few reasons – I would have to speak in my best Nepali, it was important for me to come across relatable and unlike most events/talks that I’ve done in the past where maybe a small handful are aware of ‘lexlimbu’ the blogger etc., I was here introducing myself, my background, how ‘lexlimbu’ started, what he does as well as introducing me as the everyday person and my Limbu family background.
Aside from heavily appreciating the action of a young Nepali person(s) making an effort to do something purposeful in Nepal, listeners and well-wishers liked my clarity when I stated that Tracing Nepal is not a charity, it’s a business. Many confuse Tracing Nepal to be a charity program but I would like to state that it is not a charity program. Business I believe is the way that we can financially empower people, make them independent and give them skills and experience at the same time. Tracing Nepal hopes to do this by establishing connections with communities and existing organisations, paying for their service and employing individuals along the way. It’s a start and though we’ve had three Tracing Nepal programs (2014, 2015, 2016), in reality we’re actually only three months in.
Besides my presentation and talk, the event gave me an opportunity to interact with many as questions flooded in dozens. From being quizzed about my view on second generation Nepalis in the UK, how I would describe the Limbuwan movement, my thoughts on Nepalis living abroad who have opted for non-Nepali passports to the urbanization of rural communities in Nepal, the event was a memorable few hours of connecting.
In regards to Nepalis living abroad opting for a British Passport, US Passport, Australian one and so on. I am sure everyone has their own reason and we shouldn’t be harsh on the personal decisions that others make. Additionally, a ‘Nepali’ person with a British or American passport may be contributing more to Nepal and doing good work for the country than a ‘Nepali’ person with a Nepali passport as well. Some criticisms can be highly unfair in my view… Lastly, in terms of identity I know who I am because that comes from within, from my years of living, learning and being. As the world becomes a village and we move endlessly, a passport for many is simply a document of convenience.
Finally, I am deeply grateful to have been invited to speak at the Limbuwan Study Center and it was a pleasant surprise to know that I am the youngest speaker at the center till date. In this journey of learning and discovery, I hope to educate myself more about our Limbu history and culture.