World Deaf Leadership
Name: Arjun Shrestha
Field of Study: Deaf Education and Deaf Studies
My name is Arjun Shrestha, and I am from Nepal. I was born in a city in midwest Nepal called Syangja. I am the only deaf person out of six siblings. Since the age of 6 I have attended a deaf school in Pokhara City. I experienced huge challenges while studying--by myself--Intermediate level Management at a hearing college for two years without any communication accessibility. Later on I studied for my Bachelor's degree at that college for three years without any interpreting services. It was due to these struggles that I was unsatisfied with my college studies. I used my experiences to do everything in my power to foster the development of deaf education and the deaf community and have held a variety of positions, such as general secretary, treasurer, board member, and advisor to the local and national deaf organization to help this become a reality. I also held a job teaching in a deaf school for a few years, as well.
By working hard to achieve my dream, I became the first Nepali to receive the WDL scholarship award from the Nippon Foundation via Gallaudet University in 2011. My dream is finally closer to coming true and I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Nippon Foundation and Gallaudet University for giving me this opportunity. I began studying in July of 2011 and have chosen Deaf Education as my major and Deaf Studies as my minor. My goal here at Gallaudet is to find ways I can promote the improvement of bilingual education and sign language in the deaf schools around Nepal. Gallaudet encourages me to become a qualified deaf leader that will change the deaf world in Nepal academically, socially, culturally, and technologically. My career goal is to become a professor at a university and an education specialist for the deaf programs in Nepal.
There are many difficulties related with the improvement of deaf education, development of a sign language dictionary, and sign language interpreting needs in Nepal. There is also a lack of technical materials and equipment necessary for deaf children and adults as well. In order to be able to solve all these difficulties, I am prepared to sacrifice whatever I can to change the deaf world as an energetic citizen of my country. Upon graduation from Gallaudet University, I will return to Nepal. I plan to organize local and national workshops and seminars, as well as to develop research data related to deaf persons receiving and not receiving their education. Based on my findings I will prioritize the establishment of a national center for deaf education. I will also set up a project that will produce a basic curriculum and books for primary school children in Nepali Sign Language (NSL). The center will also coordinate with any university in Nepal to establish deaf studies programs for students who wish to learn deaf education and NSL. This program will provide educational training to teachers working in deaf schools to improve their teaching capacities. I will also lobby for a national deaf education policy, laws, and other rights to the Nepali government and establish a network between deaf education programs with national and international organizations.
UPDATE: January 2017
Nippon-Gallaudet World Deaf Leadership (WDL) scholar Arjun Shrestha, from Nepal, who graduated from Gallaudet in 2015 with a bachelor of arts degree in deaf education and linguistics, returned home to work as Program Officer for the Gandaki Association of the Deaf (GAD) in Pokhara. His role includes organizing and managing programs hosted by GAD, preparing project proposals that support educational programs in Deaf schools, and communicating with leaders and organizations from various countries.
Arjun continues to be committed to improving the lives of all Nepalese deaf people One of his goals is to set up a Deaf Bilingual Literacy Project for Deaf children and youth, and he is in the process of raising funds to support the project.
Arjun recently published a newsletter sharing news about his accomplishments and plans in Nepal since his return, empowered with the knowledge, skills, and training to advocate for the deaf community that he gained at Gallaudet as a WDL scholar.
Arjun's newsletter can be read here