Shreya Paudel: Young and On The Go

February 11, 2014 , by Samridhi Goyal, Leave your thoughts
Shreya Paudel: Young and On The Go » My Dreams Mag
Shreya Paudel studies International Political Studies at the University of Middlesex, UK, and was on the list of inspiring students on The Guardian for the year 2014. He has been actively involved in resolving various issues faced by the both national and international students on the campus. Shreya has also previously held the post of President of Middlesex University Students Union and has been instrumental in bringing various issues concerning students to the fore. We chatted with him about his hopes and aspirations for the future.


  • Why were you on the list of inspiring students on the Guardian?

I wrote a blog for them highlighting the issues faced by international students in the UK. How plans to cut the immigration numbers could affect all of us and our right to remain in the country. Not all is as polished as it seems from a distance.


  • Tell us a little about your background.

I was born in Patan Hospital and lived in Lalitpur until I was 19. I went to St. Xavier’s School in Jawlakhel. At the age of seven, when my teacher asked the whole class about what they wanted to become, everybody gave their answers—doctors, engineers, scientists etc. I had no idea why I said it, but my answer was “prime minister”. Throughout my school life people called me by the nickname “pradhan mantri”. I enjoy speaking to people and I can befriend different kinds of people. This comes from my mother. As a kid, my first influence in politics came from my father. I grew up listening to his stories about how he fought the one-party Panchayat system.


  • What are your future plans?

I want to run for certain positions at the National Union of Students. If I get elected I will serve in that capacity for a year. And then I want to return to Nepal. (At the time of writing, Shreya was an official candidate for International Students Officer at the National Union of Students).


  • Tell us a little about life in the UK.

It’s not all good for international students in the UK. We contribute eight million pounds in fees every year to the British economy, but we are yet to get the kind of support we need to flourish. Jobs are hard to come by and we are paid only a minimum wage. We might in the future have to pay for NHS (National Health Services).


  • It can’t be all bad? Surely there are good parts to it?

Well one thing that we don’t get to do in Nepal is to just walk around and absorb nature in the parks, which are very well planned in the UK. Also, England is such a melting pot of different people and cultures from all around the world. It is a delight to interact with them. You get different kinds of food from all over the world. UK holds a special allure for people from Nepal due to its well developed infrastructure and quality of life. For example, even if you work as a guard here and you can go afford to for a good holiday if you manage your finances prudently. This might not be possible for a person in the same profession in Nepal.

  shreya paudel

  • What other differences can you think of?

Well, there are a lot of cultural differences. For example, the accent and some colloquial dialects in the inner parts of London are hard to master. When I was new here I remember asking one of my lecturers “maybe we should go for coffee sometime just to talk?” My classmates were quite surprised because out here, going for coffee essentially means you are asking the other person out on a date. I didn’t know that, and it was quite embarrassing (laughs).


  • What are your plans once you return to Nepal?

I have been away for some years, so I will have to study the society again and figure out what changes the nation has undergone and work accordingly.


  • Have you given a thought to which political party you would like to join?

Not really. I would just go with the flow and see what happens. I would want to be working proactively.


  • Maybe start your own outfit?

I don’t really know, but I would like to give back to the society, whatever I do. I am increasingly believing that what needs to be done on the ground needs to be done irrespective of massive party-political debates, which do not accomplish much. Politically I am a socialist but that politics goes in vain if it cannot accomplish anything. For example in rural Nepal people cling on ropes (tuin) to cross rivers. They are quite dangerous, and it can be quite a chore for little kids who have to cross these bridges to get to school every day. Many of them have fallen and disappeared in the river below. A lot of lives are lost for something so simple. To them it does not matter which political party is seen to be deciding to build it. All they need is a bridge. Likewise, all we need is progressive political action which reaches out to people on a practical level. Enough of rhetoric in Nepali politics.


  • What has been your biggest inspiration?

Regarding political personalities, I’m heavily influenced by Karl Marx. Not from his utopian heaven of communism, but from his ideas of changing societies for the better. Not that everything is stagnant. We do not have to accept the world as it is. But Marx was instrumental in getting people to think one can change things. I like Madan Bhandari and BP Koirala, both giants in their own politics. I highly admire BP for his ‘rashtriya mel-milap niti’. Yes, he wanted to cooperate with the king at that time, but only to counter the geopolitical influence from the South. Likewise, Bhandari was a towering figure in Nepali politics who gave hardened communists a chance to transform into democratic socialists. And my Jesuit education has engrained the idea of “men for others” in me. Only the future will tell the extent to which I can follow it, but it has inspired me tremendously.


  • What message would you like to give to the readers?

I would like to say that if you want things to change, you cannot be a silent spectator. You have to get your hands dirty and get into the game. Also, one has to be compassionate and give back to society. And I don’t mean that rhetorically. One has to work hard and for the society which has given us so much.

Read about Shreya’s nomination to the Guardian’s list of inspiring students here: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/dec/31/inspiring-students-hopes-for-2014


Interview By: Samridhi Goyal

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