SSC Nepal Shared Stories of Friendship in the First Alumni Meeting

Great teamwork by Sakura Science Club Nepal (SSCN) coordinators resulted in the success of the April 16th online event, “Promotion of Friendship between Nepal and Japan.” President and main coordinator of SSCN, Mr. Suman Dhun Shrestha opened the event by explaining how members responded to his call for volunteers and how the group is organized and ready to expand in and outside of Nepal. One of the SSCN coordinators, Ms. Aneeta Thapa, moderated the event.

Keynote Session 1:
Professor Keshav Lall Maharjan

Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Hiroshima University

Professor Keshav Lall Maharjan

In his presentation, Dr. Maharjan explained that if you know yourself and set your purpose, your goal in life will prevail in the end─no matter your course in life. Despite his interest in animal science, circumstances led Dr. Maharjan to pursue graduate studies at Kyoto University in agricultural economics, a field in social science. In his bachelor’s and master’s theses, he focused on Japan-specific topics. In his PhD, however, he refocused from Japanese issues to global ones: irrigation and drainage schemes and rural development in Bangladesh. He applied his learnings in Japan and consolidated them into social and economic issues relevant to South Asia and beyond. Out of his takeaway talking points, Dr. Maharjan particularly stressed the importance of “mind-transformation,” to get rid of any societal or personal biases in our minds.

Keynote Session 2:
Professor Rijan Bhakta Kayastha

Department of Environmental Science and Engineering
Kathmandu University

Professor Rijan Bhakta Kayastha

Professor Rijan looked back fondly on his days at Nagoya University, where he obtained his Master’s and Doctor of Science in Glaciology. In the beginning he faced homesickness, but he gradually got to know Japan and its culture better with support from the university, friends, and local international friendship societies. After coming back to Nepal, he started a master’s research program in glaciology at Kathmandu University. Thirty-five students including international students have graduated so far. He said his experience in Nagoya led him to support students from different countries back in Nepal. As a former JSPS* fellow, he established the Nepal JSPS Alumni Association (NJAA) and served as the founding president during 2015-2021. Similarly, to those who participated in the Sakura Science Program and returned to Nepal, he encouraged them to join SSCN, the program’s alumni network.
*JSPS - Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Sharing Session 1
Ms. Ruchi Shah (Alumni 2018)

Graduate Student at IIT Roorkee

Ms. Ruchi Shah

Ms. Shah, a master’s student majoring in Bioscience & Bioengineering at IIT Roorkee, spoke about her experience with the Sakura Science program. She first visited Japan in 2018, and was able to secure an internship at the University of Tokyo’s Department of Bioscience, Kawamura Lab. Ms. Shah described her warm welcome to Japan, which included auditing various classes at the University of Tokyo, taking lessons on cultural heritage such as calligraphy, and visiting historic sites. Finally, Ms. Shah commended the program, saying that “this experience has really helped me become the person I am today.”

Sharing Session 2
Ms. Srisha Poudel (Alumni 2019)

Program Assistant at National Child Rights Council

Ms. Srisha Poudel

Under the Sakura Science funding, Ms. Poudel traveled to Japan in 2019 as one of ten students in the Nepal-Japan Exchange Project, hosted by Waseda and three other universities. This program consisted of two phases. In spring, Japanese students and professors from the four Japanese universities visit Nepal to conduct research and learn about the country. In summer, Nepalese students come to Japan. In addition to attending lectures and preparing research papers, students visit areas of cultural and scientific interest, including the Disaster Risk Management Center. Ms. Poudel hopes that more Nepalese students get the chance to stay or to study in Japan.

The SSC secretariat in Japan would like to voice our wholehearted gratitude to all contributors including our honorable guests Mr. Yutaka Kikuta, Ambassador of Japan to Nepal, Mr. Ambika Joshi, Chargé d’ Affaires at the Embassy of Nepal in Tokyo, and Mr. Jaya Prasad Acharya, Under Secretary of the Development Assistance Coordination Section at Nepal’s Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology. We also extend our sincere thanks to Mr. Raymond Tan of JASSO Malaysia Office who always efficiently and precisely provides guidance on studying in Japan. As Ms. Shreni Rajbhandary smartly summarized in her closing remarks, we believe that this meeting will be a good start to further strengthen ties between Nepal, Japan and all SSC alumni members across the world.

Photo AC: mac 1917

While HRH Birendra Bir Bikram Shah was studying in Japan in 1967, the people of Atami-city presented him with Japanese sakura cherry trees to express friendship. In return, HRH donated Himalayan sakura trees to Atami to show his appreciation. 2022 marks the 120th anniversary of international student exchanges between Japan and Nepal.