लण्डन-काठमाडौं

What I learnt: Tying up my experience from Honduras to everything

20 SEPTEMBER 2016

I have been contemplating for past week now as to how to close my entry of Honduras. I wanted to write a reflection summary, to capture what it was I learnt. But inevitably, my perspective will be influenced the past experience and knowledge about Asia, specifically Nepal and the UK. I am not sure how it will turn out, but here goes.

Sometimes, the writing (especially unstructured writer like me) doesn't do it justice to reflect the learning and the feelings truly experienced. First of, the reasoning of my attached sentiment with Honduras was due my adaptability there, which I did not find too difficult. This was of course influenced by how I looked, specifically my skin colour, that to some degree convinced people I was Honduran/from Latin America. It was very refreshing to be accepted as the part of the community; it was funny but endearing having people come up to me and speak in Spanish. Whilst in the UK, though having lived for more than half of my life so far, I did not always feel like I belonged here completely, perhaps to the fact I had not always integrated fully, and apart from friends, maintaining close contact with just a small community of people in Reading. And though I was born and have got a beautiful childhood and fortunate enough to have an understanding of the different ways in the village in Nepal, I do not quite feel like I belong there 100% either. For people who know me, I talk about Nepal awful lot; I have a lot of family there yet I cannot go and spend my life there; I cannot live with the same work or life ethics as most. Like many, identity in a limbo, trying to preserve the family background whilst trying to create your own sense of being. So, before I had a sense of not having a proper identity. There was not one place that I could call mine without any doubts. But as I travelled 15,048 km from the country I was born at, some people confused me or accepted me as one of them, it felt liberating. Because, I learnt that I could belong anywhere, in any continent. And that it really was up to me. I did not need to have born there or lived there for most of my life. If I wanted to, like many communities, separate myself out and decide not to integrate to the environment and people around me, I could do that, even in Nepal or UK. Or, I also could go to any part of the world, one of very different culture, lifestyle and with different skin colour, I could make it mine. It was as if the world showed under one sky, everyone belong everywhere. It was up to you to decide and you do not need a singular identity.

usha
Photo: Usha Adhikari

 Secondly, Honduras gave another opportunity to look at religion but it made me question more about my own beliefs or the lack of. In Nepal, with the morning puja to the Sun god, ringing of the bells and puja to the statues, and many stories of Gods through Mahavarat and Bhagvad Gita, I never really quite got it. With many backwards views associated with some things, I could not fully accept religion as pure or 100% correct. I still take god's name when I wish well for my family or sometimes for exams and so on. But, it would feel fake almost if I pray to a statue day in and day out, as if instead of making use of the opportunities and experiences in front of you, you rely on someone else, one who you can't see. Saying that, I feel like I wished I believed, wish I had one thing that I had undying devotion for. Something that I had solid belief for even if everything else was in turmoil. I saw this with some of my friends of both Islam and Christianity religion the university and amongst the Nepali people I know, like my grandma. They used their belief in God to get them through the difficult times, and it is endearing to see that nothing else has power to shaken you. Honduras too showed me the strong influence of religion. With our host mum attending church every day, majority of the people attending church every Sunday (the children attending even twice). Church was the main part of Quinceañera event and a prayer before most of the things reflected just how important it was to their daily lives. As you watched the people's (young, adults, elderly) reaction during the prayer, you could see their conviction on God's existence and their salvation. Seeing that made me too want to believe in a God, but seeing this also made me reflect on all the other things I had seen. Every religious person was convicted that what they believed or most of the times that what they were brought into was 100% truthful and correct. It was a certain god and it was a certain way the world was formed. And it was so very vital how everything came to be that we have wars about it. According to many of the religions, only that particular religion is right, and others who do not follow that particular religion (who might be devoted in something else) are the same as the unbelievers, therefore, the options of heaven or salvation cannot be applicable to them. And how can that possibly be? My problem is not that of a faith, that we are all part of one, and I can accept the idea of someone bigger out there, might it be cosmic force, energy or god but the problem is that how can everyone be so wrong and right at the same time? Is it not more important that we embrace the current time living and focus on being a good human being rather than a good devotee and terrible human? I do not think I am equipped with enough knowledge to make any conclusion but rather a topic that you make your own judgement based on the personal experiences.

The third thing that I was constantly reminded of during my time in Honduras was the happiness, reflected by the satisfaction from the people. It hit me quite hard as I returned home to the UK. I was able to observe it fairly clearly in the first few days. And of course, this is only my personal opinion and based on my limited experience.

During our project in Honduras, I had felt the difference in the effectiveness of the time, resources and work that we did. In the UK, there was a greater restriction of the time limit; less space for faffing around, and things felt more structured or higher demand to achieve. Most of the things were business orientated and it was always the results that reflected the quality of the work. People were serious in getting the work done. All of that had worked to the advantage in development of the UK, and helped to build a community that was striving to success, to earning money, to owning gadgets and to making a name. One of the Progressio staff told us not to expect the same in Honduras, the work ethic might not be the same. There were some delays to the plan, some changes to the plan, some time lost on waiting, some on processing information, and some on being lenient. But then, it was not shocking to me, as it was the same in Nepal as I had seen last year. One of the volunteers pointed out to me that in fact it was not so effective in most parts of the world. It was in America and perhaps many parts of the Europe that people were racing against the time, living up to 'cities that never sleep'. It helped me understand that whilst I believe in being effective, and having opportunities to work and be innovative at all times, doing work right within the right time; we can learn to slow down, enjoy the work we do, enjoy the journey, not just the final point.

usha
Photo: Usha Adhikari

 It took me many days than I expected to 'recover' or try to adapt back in the UK. Firstly, although sweating everyday from the heat whilst working outside in Honduras, I miss the sun as I wrap myself with blankets all day long. My mother is worried if I will start wearing 2 coats in December. I miss the coloured houses of Villa de San Antonio. Of course I miss the friends I made, the conversations I had, some inspiring individuals that I was fortunate to meet, the volunteers, the family and my little students and their ability to give me so many hugs as well give me a headache. What I miss is the greetings with the people. The 'Adios', 'Buen Provecho', 'Que le vaya bien' from the strangers. The words so simple, yet a powerful way to connect to anyone; reflecting love and kindness. When I walked to Reading town, my home for last 12 years, I noticed even more, how people were trying their hardest to avoid eye contact, to pretend to look serious and sophisticated. Not that I would appreciate a random person following me and striking a conversation, but the cold atmosphere and seriousness added more to the lonely feeling.

 As I met up with friends and heard from relatives, I could not help but compare that with Honduras. Here in the UK, I know so many people, who have worked really very hard, achieved a lot, in terms of education or job and considering at a quite young age. It is very admirable but many seem to have misplaced the spark, the excitedness of their life. The achievements were not being celebrated, or embraced but was replaced with worries, and mainly dissatisfaction, with themselves and with the inability to please others. Now, I understand this and have been in the same position too, getting trapped into what I do not have and what is going wrong in my life. What I have not achieved and why life does not feel fulfilled. But, seeing this made me feel strange. In Honduras, the situation in terms of work, job, career is dimmer. There is a lot to be improved, from provision of basic necessities like drinking water, to equality and respect towards women and eradication of femicide. But, what was good about Honduras was the lit up spirits of the people, their easy-going attitude, and their smiles that reflected warmth. Of course, it perhaps would not be the same in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras just as the busier, bigger cities around the world.

Because of the project and the people and children I was surrounded with, I loosened a lot, I laughed a lot, I felt free and satisfied though I was working harder than ever. I met people full of childlike characteristics, which I wish they will never lose. They were hard working, and many were facing very serious problems (family, work, future, finance) yet, it felt like they were positively embracing the present. During my time there, I did not worry so much about my future not thought so much about my past. This is probably the most 'living in the present' I had practiced. So, I learnt that life is not a certain way as we are taught as kids. It is neither black nor white. There are many ways things are done around in the world and it is fascinating to know that nothing is 100% correct or 100% wrong. So, it's important to keep an open mind, to learn from others, to be accepting. Also, through my process of thinking of taking part in ICS or other volunteering scheme, I learnt that if you want to do something, it is better to schedule it right away and be brave enough to attempt to follow through your wishes. Experiences like these, working in new environment, with strangers (at first), you learn about yourself. I realised that satisfaction is really in helping others and feeling free to express yourself. And each one of us does owe it to ourselves to think about what we really want, to explore, to look at things outside the falsehood of the box we are suggested to belong to. I still have not figured out how I want to live my life, how to make best use of time and what kind of person I should be to be content. I do not fully know how to give back to those who provide for me and to others in need but this experience has made me determined to keep searching for my happiness and find ways to help others too. It changed my view on travelling. Instead of travelling to see the places alone, I would like to travel with purpose, in a way, where I can make an impact to others while also learning from others. Searching for ways to do this........

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 थप पोस्ट

The DNA revolution: Crystallography and four-stranded DNA

[Dr. Sarah P. Gurung is a recent PhD graduate from University of Reading who lives in Reading (UK). Sarah originally comes from Balaju, Kathmandu, Nepal and moved to the UK when she was 15 years old.  Her PhD research includes the DNA revolution which is vital towards modern medical treatments. She shares her experience and the main idea of the study with Londonkathmandu.com]

The study and use of DNA has been even more interesting and vital for human treatments and other purposes today. The impossible of yesterday has become possible today. In 1953, Watson and Crick introduced us to their Nobel Prize winning model of DNA. We were shown how the molecule of life comes together as two intertwining strands to form a twisted-ladder structure. This discovery, based on the results obtained by Rosalind Franklin and her PhD student Raymond Gosling, opened doors to numerous fields in science, ranging from medicine to nanotechnology. 

The method that the student-supervisor pair used to study DNA is called X-ray Diffraction which is also the technique I used for the majority of my PhD. X-rays, are a form of electromagnetic radiation whose wavelengths are shorter than that of visible light. Therefore it can be used in many day to day applications that are limited to the naked eye, such as in airport security checks and medical CT scans; to see beyond what we cannot see. The German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen is credited for the discovery of X-rays in 1895. He called this then unknown radiation “X-radiation” which has been shortened to X-ray over the years.

Diffraction, on the other hand, is the bending of waves due to encountering an obstacle. It is just like how music coming from a radio in one room will sound different when heard from another room because the sound waves have to go through walls or the water waves will change in direction when you throw a pebble into a pond. Similarly, when X-rays hit an object, which was DNA in the case of Franklin and Gosling, the rays are diffracted or bend to different directions and positions. These positions can then be used as a map to determine the location of each atom within a molecule. This technique can be used to study molecules of a range of sizes, from small to larger biological ones.

The experiments and mathematical calculations conducted by Max von Laue, Paul Peter Ewald and the father-son duo William and Laurence Bragg between1912-1913 gave rise to X-ray Crystallography. They introduced the concept of using crystals as obstacles for X-ray diffraction. Imagine if I fall down a flight of stairs and I need to check if my arm is broken. I would go to a hospital and have an X-ray scan. The report would show me the condition of my solid bones but not that of my blood or other fluids. Similarly, hitting a DNA crystal with X-rays will show how the atoms come together inside. We can also test on DNA in its liquid state using X-rays, but the results will appear more complicated because liquid is free-flowing and it will give us various atomic positions whereas a solid crystal sample will give us more specific positions of the atoms.  

For the majority of my project, I worked on how to crystallise or solidify four-stranded DNA for X-ray diffraction studies. A double helix DNA involves pairing of two DNA bases, adenine (A) with thymine (T) and guanine (G) with cytosine (C). This rule is almost natural and prevalent in all living things. However, recent studies have shown that DNA sequences which are rich in G and C can form four-stranded DNA instead of the regular two-stranded structure (Figure 1). Furthermore, these sequences are found in “telomeres” which control the aging process and the promoter regions of cancer genes, suggesting that four-stranded DNA may contribute to regulating cancer. In the past five years as a PhD student and a postdoctoral research assistant, I studied on the factors that affect the stability of these four-stranded DNA. My work heavily focused on C-rich DNA or intercalated “i-motifs” which form more readily in acidic environments. This was initially a topic of great contradiction because the human body has a pH of 7.4 so it was argued that the ‘i-motif’ cannot be present in humans.

However, I managed to crystallise an ‘i-motif’ in pH 7.0, going against the theory that they only form in acidic conditions. Moreover, only just recently, Daniel Christ and his research group in Sydney, Australia, showed the formation of i-motif DNA structures in the nuclei of human cells. Therefore, interest in i-motifs and other four-stranded DNA structures are increasing due to their unique pH-specific properties and their potential regulatory role in the human genome.

In short, my ever-challenging PhD research centred around the idea of solidifying cancer DNA from the human body so that a more precise outcome can be obtained on the DNA’s structure. The results can then be used in the future to check what kinds of drugs/medicines can be used or developed to treat cancer.

 Sarah

Figure 1: (Left) The two-stranded “Double Helix” DNA which is prevalent in most living organisms. The DNA bases A (green) always pairs with T (red) and C (yellow) always pairs with G (blue). (Right) The four-stranded “i-motif” DNA which has the potential to form in cancer genes. It is made up of C DNA bases.

 

 

Tireed

Tireed is what i feel right now
"Its so graceful:"
"Its so beautiful:"
"Its so amazing:"
People would say
At this sight.
This sight that i am beholding.
This beautiful sight.
They are right on their terms.
It is beautiful.
This sunset.
This golden radiance it spread.
Everything became beautiful.
The leaves were gold.
The path was gold.
The clouds looked like fire.
The birds were happy
Birds:
Returning home
The animals were happy
From the day's food
And for the night's rest
All were enjoying
Only i couldnt.
Walking down the road alone
I hear laughs
I hear talks
Of them people
Happy people
Enjoying the sunset
Only i couldn't bring myself to be happy
"Loook mommy preetty"
A little boy said pointing at the setting sun
"Ohhh those eyes"
Those innocent ignorant eyes of that kid
All they knew was happiness
Its true that the sunset was beautiful
Only i couldnt think it that way
And so clouldnt you
Right:
My fren "sunset":
Though everbody is haappy
U and i know it.
Only u and i kno
Whats its like to know when ones brilliance is at end
Whats it like to be added set at the back
"Hummphh"
"Sunset"
There is nothing beautiful about it
Nothing at all
It just reminded that night is near by
Darkness is nearby
Its coming
Isnt it my fren.
You who can
Comprehend my state
For us everything is dull
Isnt it
Everytime i want to forget n enjoy
I am like you
I know darkness is just on the edge
Everytime
I want to enjoy
I hear those word
Those despicable words
Those unfair words
Those painful words
Everytime
I hear them echoo
Within me
" i am sorry sir u have blood cancer .....blood cancer.....blood cancerrr"
Hummphh
Sunset
Nothings beautiful about it
Nothing
..
.
..

MP Appreciates Nepalese Students in Reading

Matt Rodda, MP of Reading East, has appreciated the achievements of Nepalese students in their GCSE this year.  MP Rodda was speaking as chief guest at a programme organised by Nepalese Highly Skilled Migrant Forum Reading to honour the Nepalese community students completing their GCSE this year at the Warehouse, Cumberland Road in Reading on Sunday.

Nepalese students performed well in their GCSE this year from different schools of   Reading including Bulmershe, Reading Girls, Forest, Prospect and others.  A sample of Bulmershe school in Reading showed Nepalese students were nearly 10 % ahead of the average national level GCSE grade this year with 71.3 % achieving A*- C in the GCSE.   This was a remarkable progress of the students, who have a very short history of migration to the UK and are very new to the UK education system.

The sample data of the students' achievement shows, the percentage of achieving A*- has been increasing, while the percentage of lower level D-G grade has decreased drastically in the last few years.  A large number of students of the community have enrolled in renowned Universities for higher education in different subjects including the skills shortage areas like medicine, engineering, IT, science, teaching among others is also the evidence of the improvement.  

MP Rodda said he was very pleased with the remarkable progress made by the Nepalese community students even in a short period of time in the UK education system, and congratulated the students, parents and the whole community.

hsmpPhoto: Anupama Acharya

After being elected to the parliament in May this year, he said his focus is mainly on three issues facing our constituency and the country:  affordable housing, stop the cuts of Conservative government and fight for more funding to schools and national health services (NHS).  He said Labour government gave priority to the education so increased the funding to the schools during the labour government from 1997 to 2010, while the Conservatives have cut the school budget and there are fewer teachers and less funding to the school.

On behalf of parents, Mr Narayan Somai and Mrs Saraswati Khanal shared their experiences on how to help children to do well in their studies in an effective and responsible manner. We should create an environment of education so they learn themselves without pressurising them, they said.

Student Ayush Shrestha, shedding light on the new curriculum and new marking criteria which made difficult for students to get a higher grade this year, unveiled his GCSE exam preparation tips to achieve better results.

Coordinator of the GCSE Appreciation programme of the HSMP Forum  Chiranjibi Paudyal, presenting sample data of Nepalese students’ performance of Bulmershe school, said that the GCSE results was improving each and every year because of a number of factors including improvement in quality teaching and giving priority to education by Nepalese parents.

MP Rodda presented token of love to the GCSE students,  HSMP Forum Coordinator Dr Nabin Acharya gave away certificates while Sadiksha Giri, who was one of the top three students of Bulmershe school with 10 A* and one A in GCSE,  distributed Nepali flags to the students.

hsmp

More than 30 students completed the GCSE from different school this year.  Students, parents and community leaders were present at the programme held under the chairmanship of Bulmershe school student Sadiksha Giri, who was honoured for her excellent achievement in GCSE and inspire the younger generation.

HSMP Forum member Ramesh Kayasth conducted the programme, while co-ordinator of HSMP Forum Reading Dr Acharya extended vote of thanks to the guests and the participants before the conclusion of the programme. The Forum has been organising such programme for the last 7 years with a view to appreciating and celebrating the achievement of students and encouraging them for higher studies and making contributions to community and the country.

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Photo:Anupama Acharya

Beauty and lifestyle: A creation of my Study

Reading, UK
8 July  2017

I do not see myself as just a makeup artist, but an artist in general. I am currently studying graphics design at university and I started my youtube channel as part of a project for my course. The project was about the beauty of colours featured on different skin tones which aren't always shown in the beauty industry. 

The course I do lets me express my views in artistic ways & this freedom gives me the opportunity to raise awareness in what I find is important for my generation. This is why majority of my projects are shown through makeup and photography. I had a real interest in makeup before I studied Graphics Design which led me to combine the two so I could enjoy my course to its full potential. Instead of drawing on paper or using digital programs, I am basically using my face as a canvas and I love it. 

Having a youtube channel has improved my confidence which is shown through every video I post. As my confidence has grown, it has enabled me to share my work further and teach those who want to learn the art of makeup for themselves. The makeup looks I've created so far are what my supporters have asked to see.

I'm hoping that I can take my art to higher levels and one day, be able to collaborate with artists who have inspired me and my work. I also would love for the chance to put my country on the map & be known as a Nepalese artist. I have upcoming projects with different artists as the learning cycle never ends. I take great pride in my work and I'm very excited for what the future holds for me.

Youtube links: 

Please click here to view my Youtube Channel

My Pride My Motherland

At the twinkle of the Mt Everest
Shining ever, in peace and prosperity quest,
Proud to own You, my motherland Nepal
The land of treasure, once ruled by the Gopal

Lately freed of monarchy at people’s cost
Wept,but patient, at thousands lost
Generations sovereign, invincible my motherland
With gleaming swords at Bir Balbhadra’s hand

Swayambhu and Pashupati stand in symphony
Himal, Padad, Terai all embrace in harmony,
Your brave lovers today living global
 
Yet vibrantly with You, fostering overall 

My pride my motherland of all land
Whether New Zealand or Switzerland,
Flora and fauna all gather to one block
A top reason the loving tourists to flock

Rich in heritage, rich in hearts
Rich in shared humanly arts, 
Glad to have more Anuradha and Mahabir Pun
For the sake of glowing my adorable dune

Proud of ‘a whole’ Taplejung to Mahendranagar
As sober treasure again, Baglung or Biratnagar, 
Honesty and bravery symbol of the livelihood
All casts and creeds tales of the brotherhood

Always so proud, but upset I felt never
Yes, my motherland, in heart with me forever!

 

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