Fireworks, Doma and Impartial Love

I began journaling when I was traveling extensively on business.  I’d see something and sense the potential for insight that would come, if at all, only after I had time to reflect.  That’s when I began making notes as breadcrumb trails to explore later.

Blogging turns out to be better.  It motivates me to try harder to uncover what I can’t see.  Also, I get help.  Some comments start me on long journeys.

Harold, for example, commented on my post several months ago:  “Buddhism is epitomized by how I treat a grandchild, with a great deal of caring and kindness.   Now for some reason as people grow older we stop treating them like we would treat our young grandchildren.”

The first note I made was:  “Caring and kindness seem to be the expression of our fundamental nature.  It manifests without impediment with young children but is obscured with adults by caution.  They are not so vulnerable and could be a threat.  It is more completely obscured with old people by fear.  They are all too obviously close to what we fear most, death.”

Then came this tangential thought:  “Like many teenagers I sought a purpose for my life.  My mental model was trading.  I imagined having an amount of time I could invest for a return and that I must decide what return I wanted and how much to invest.  Maybe this is why I went into business despite an instinct that it would not by itself offer a sufficient return.”

Presumably I added the next note because the discussion started from Buddhism:  “It is easier to see now the only certainty, a time will come when we can no longer enjoy whatever return we assemble because we will die.  We may not even live long enough to assemble any return.”

But next came a segue I couldn’t account for:  “Every October my mom would buy a few fireworks.  Then she would buy a few more.  We never had much money and my dad felt they were a waste.  That’s why my mom only bought a few.  But she loved fireworks.  That’s why she bought a few more.  Then a few more.  On Guy Fawkes night my dad worried the fireworks would set something on fire.  My mom and I enjoyed them.  My dad was relieved when they were over with no accidents.”

Those memories are happy, mostly, and they led me to search for a video of fireworks.   The unhappy aspect is my father’s worry and that his most positive feeling was relief when it was over.

Presumably, that’s what reminded me of something else:  “My mom also enjoyed putting empty toothpaste tubes in the kitchen coal stove where the air trapped inside them expanded until, after a suspenseful wait, there was a loud explosion.  My dad really hated that.”

This morning when I meandered along this breadcrumb trail once again it struck me at last how toothpaste and firework explosions relate to Buddhism.

Rainbows are used in Buddhist teaching as an example of something that is real in quite a different way from what we see.  Rainbows look almost solid.  That’s because we think things are solid even when we know they are not.  We know if we go toward the end of the rainbow looking for a pot of gold, it will keep moving away but nevertheless, the rainbow seems real.  The way we interpret it is deluded.

Our experience of the light display from fireworks is different.  The rainbow persists long enough to appear solid; the display from the firework changes fast so we don’t tell ourselves a story about its nature.   We see a firework as an experience, not a thing.

An exploding toothpaste tube is different again, long anticipation, then, with no way to know when it will occur, an instantaneous blast.  Surprise!  The whack of a stick by a Zen Buddhist master might startle me into seeing past my fog of concepts.  The recollected toothpaste blast just revealed the fundamental difference between my mother and father — one loved and the other hated surprises.

How does any of this relate to Doma?

At school in England in that time of fireworks we got religious instruction, stories from the Bible that seemed to have no relevance to our situation two thousand years later in a very different world.  Jesus’ Great Commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself” did penetrate my indifference, though.  In fact, it felt to be the most important principal of all for a good life.  But it puzzled me.  Some of my schoolmates were very cruel, always pouncing on anyone vulnerable.  Should I love them?   And while I had a couple of close friends, it  did not seem worthwhile even talking with most of the boys.

Harold’s comment about Buddhism got me thinking about my practice of prayer to “train in impartial love and compassion.”  I now see what I didn’t see when I was in school, that our actions, good, bad and neutral, are one thing and our fundamental nature is another.  Our impartial love and compassion is obscured by misconceptions and habits that we can train ourselves to discard.

The first love we experience, love for our mother, arises because she nurtures us; it feels good but its root is selfish.  Love for our children is also programmed but is less selfish.  I have no experience as a grandparent but I don’t doubt that it does, as Harold says, tend to manifest more selflessly.  We expect to feel it, so it is programmed, but we feel less need to discipline young grandchildren so we less often trigger their selfishness.  Love for grandchildren comes with fewer expectations.

How this relates to Doma is that my experience as her sponsor was not programmed and it did not accumulate expectations.  We live far apart and she was eleven when we met.  Our interactions developed slowly and grew closer only as she became a young adult.  The feeling I have as a result of that happenstance is something I’d have to call love but it’s a different kind from any other experience I would give the same name.

The feeling that has emerged from my interactions with Doma gives me a sense of how impartial love may feel even though I cannot call what I feel now impartial.  I only help Doma because I judge her to be worthy of help.  I do now have a sense of how it would feel, though, if, instead of first making a judgment about people’s relative worthiness, I had the same powerful desire to help everyone.

What about impartial compassion?  Children love but do not feel compassion for their mother.  They lack any sense that their mother might suffer.  Parents experience compassion for their children — when they’re not feeling impatient, infuriated, disappointed or proud.  But how does impartial compassion feel?  My experience with Doma is instructive here, too.  The way it evolved helps me recognize what she’s feeling without also feeling it myself.

And how does impartial compassion relate to fireworks?  Because Doma is alert, enthusiastic and curious, she will definitely create surprises.  Mostly they will, like fireworks, be happy-making because she has good sense, but surely not all her decisions will be right.   I will need the joyful anticipation of surprises I learned from my mother to maintain impartial compassion no matter what.

Wandering from Harold’s comment about love for grandchildren via my remembrance of fireworks and exploding toothpaste tubes to my experience helping Doma has at last shown me how and why it’s so valuable to train in impartial love and compassion — because I’m not swamped by sharing Doma’s emotions when circumstances spark them, I can more clearly see how to help.

I must continue training in impartiality.  Meantime, please join me in helping Doma’s inspiring journey by clicking the Paypal Donate button to contribute to her education.  Thank you!


Amazement, Gratitude and Doma’s Funding

Doma is amazed and I am deeply grateful to all who already donated for her college expenses.  When I texted her the results of your generosity in just the three short weeks since I posted A Compelling Story she replied, Your friends are SO generous and made this video.

I’m delighted to tell you that we already have all the funding for Doma’s first semester!  We now need only another $7,820 for her entire first year at Hampshire College.

Two thirds of what Doma needs has been donated — $15,552 of the $23,372 Hampshire College projects as her entire “family contribution” for the first year.  And, commitments for years 2-4 assuming she makes good progress already total $26,850.

I say “only” even though $7,820 is a substantial amount because I am sure more of you will feel comfortable donating now that you know Doma really will be given this opportunity she and her mother worked for so hard.

Here are a few replies I want to highlight:

“I’m tapped out right now with some prior commitments, but would like to contribute all the same.  There’s a feeling of poverty that I carry inside myself, a sense that I never have enough means to offer extra; your letter calls out to that higher self which knows that, in the broader perspective, there is SO much more I could do.  Thank you for offering me this opportunity.  Count me in for $100 annually.  I’ll send the first $50 by July, with the 2nd installment in December. I won’t forget.”  My eyes well up every time I think of these words.

“I thought that perhaps if 10 people like me made small donations, it would all add up.  I also thought about my daughter and how lucky she has been.”  How much or little each of us gives is not important.  The total Doma needs for four years at Hampshire College is large but every dollar donated cuts that total by the same amount, and every gift is equally inspiring.

“I have forwarded the email to some friends who may be able to help or know people who can.”  This is from a Buddhist nun who has no $$$ to give.  Her gift is one we all can give, just as much from the heart as cash.

“I wish I could offer financial support but I am already overextended with all the Afghan students I am helping.”   Appended to all this friend’s emails is:  “Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you. — St. Augustine.”   I agree 100% and do not ask her even to forward my appeal.  Doma is far from the only one who needs and deserves help.  I would urge this friend’s other friends to support her work with Afghan students.

Technical obstacles stopped me from posting this on Mothers’ Day so you could on that occasion salute what Doma’s mother gave, but mothers give so much — we can give in their honor on other days, too!

Join this inspiring journey! Click on the Donate button below to make a one-time or recurring monthly contribution online through Paypal, or mail a check to Bath Savings Institution, PO Box 548, Bath, Maine 04530-0548 for deposit in the Beneficiary Account Doma Ghale 187630. Their ABA for bank-to-bank transfers is 2112 74447. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!




 

Why I Sponsor Doma’s Education

I know why supporting Doma’s education is so worthwhile because I’ve been seeing the results for seven years.  But I wondered, would those videos, essays and other information communicate enough so those who haven’t met her would also be inspired?  Yes!  Your response is magnificent – see the results from just the first few days.

Several comments also made me think.  Explaining his donation, for example, JacobT wrote: “I’m a firm believer in the value of education and what it can do in the lives of of people like Doma.  I’m also helping the daughter of a poor laborer in India through her engineering education. “  He doesn’t say why he acts so generously on his belief, which got me thinking.  Why is it so important to me to help Doma?

In large part it’s because Doma’s background parallels my own.   We both owe so much to our mothers.  I wrote about Doma’s mother here.  Mine was raised in an orphanage by Catholic nuns.  They inherited intelligence and a sense of fun, their hard lives amplified their discipline and courage.

Are you skeptical when I say my childhood was happy?   The closest shops were far down a dirt track, we had a coal stove in the kitchen, a small fireplace in the only other room downstairs, no heat upstairs, only a hand pump behind the house, and an outhouse at the far end of the yard — no utilities.   OK, I don’t have happy memories of the outhouse in winter.  When I was five, we moved to a house from which I could walk to school.  It was almost two miles, quite far in English weather.

I don’t advocate mine or Doma’s childhood environment but they do motivate working for something better.  What I wish is that every child could have a mother like mine and Doma’s

Our mothers made us not just go to school but study at home.  I was luckier because I also had a father and although my mother’s schooling was not the greatest, she could help me with school work.  Doma’s single mother has no schooling at all.   What both gave equally is what is most necessary — love and the unshakeable determination that we would make a better future than their own.

In her college application essays, what I learned from my mother and my greatest gift, Doma highlights what made her mother’s gift of education so powerful — her example, just like my mother’s.

The support I give Doma is possible only because of what my parents gave me.  We all feel proud of earning what we have, but as I’ve lived longer and recognized more of what made my life possible, I’ve grown more conscious of how much I really owe to my mother and many others.

Please join me in supporting Doma’s education and honoring those whose generosity made our lives possible.  Click on the Donate button to make a one-time or recurring monthly contribution through Paypal, or mail a check to Bath Savings Institution, PO Box 548, Bath, Maine 04530-0548 for deposit in the Beneficiary Account Doma Ghale 187630, or their ABA for bank-to-bank transfers is 2112 74447.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!




A Compelling Story

Share our excitement!  Doma Ghale, a low-caste, very poor Nepali girl we’ve sponsored for seven years has been admitted by a great US college!  We’re inspired by her amazing progress.  Her degree here will complete her preparation to build a business that creates good jobs in Nepal.  But she now needs more help than we alone can give.

All of us get a lot of appeals. Why respond to this one?  See Doma explain why she wants a US college education in this video.  Watch this Nepali dance performance she choreographed.  Learn more about her achievements here.  Read about her mother’s life and her own self-transformation hereFinancial aid, donation and college expense accounting data are here and here is news about her progress and experiences, as well as updates to the Accounting page.

Join this inspiring journey!  Click on the Donate button below to make a one-time or recurring monthly contribution online through Paypal, or mail a check to Bath Savings Institution, PO Box 548, Bath, Maine 04530-0548 for deposit in the Beneficiary Account Doma Ghale 187630.  Their ABA for bank-to-bank transfers is 2112 74447.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!




What Doma Learned from her Mother

Here is Doma’s answer to: “Community – educational, geographic, religious, political, ethnic, or other – can define an individual’s experience and influence her journey. How has your community, as you identify it, shaped your perspective? (250 word limit)”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Doma at SwayambhuMy mother is from a low-caste family in Nepal’s hill country. Like other village girls she had no schooling, spoke only her tribal language and had an arranged marriage when she was fifteen. I was born the same year. My father brought her to Kathmandu where she had to learn Nepali. He abused and soon left her; then she raised me alone. Because she had no education, the only job she could get was as a hotel maid.

But my mother is intelligent, she learns quickly, she thinks clearly and she is strong and confident. If something must be done, she finds a way to get it done. She has made great sacrifices so I can make a better future.

The obstacles for a low-caste girl like me are outweighed by my advantages. Because my mother always worked hard, so do I, and although she could not help me with school work, by listening to her, I learned to think.

At first I did not believe my future would be different from hers because that was the only life I had seen, but she put me in a good school and I began to see other possibilities. Later, at Budhanilkantha School in a community of well-educated, wealthy students, I realized there is actually no limit to what I can do.

I have grown up Buddhist so I must live ethically. What I inherited and learned from my mother means I can live that way.

Doma’s Dance Essay

“Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences.”  Several colleges asked variants of that with limits ranging from 75 words to a page.  Here’s one of Doma’s longer responses:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

IMG_1141“Dance like there’s nobody watching,” William W. Purkey taught. That is the mantra I repeat before every performance. My first was when I was four and I have been dancing ever since.  The music comes on and the moves just flow out of me: it’s amazing.

In my younger years I mostly did folk dances of my Tamang caste and other indigenous people. Later, I started doing modern and classical dances. My first experience in front of a huge crowd was in an inter-school competition when I was five.  Our group was awarded first prize. Since I was the tiniest, I was in front throughout the dance and everyone noticed me. It was so much fun.

Later, when I was at Budhanilkantha School for the equivalent of Junior and Senior years in High School, I participated in the inter-college ‘Kaleidoscope’ competition that is held every year in National Academy Hall.  It includes dancing, singing, a fashion show, kite making and debate. We did Indian classical dance in class 11 and a modern dance in class 12.  It was a great opportunity to represent our school at the national level and meet many different people.

In my senior year at Budhanilkantha School, the Head of my Choyu House assigned me as cultural captain, an honor and responsibility I very much wanted. For the annual dance competition for juniors, it was my job to decide the theme, compose both modern and folk dances, prepare props and choose only eight of the forty dancers who wanted to participate. I wanted to join them in the performance but I could only watch. The announcement of the result made me burst into tears: 1st in folk dance, 2nd in modern dance, and an overall trophy. The performance and the applause ended long ago, but my joyous feeling is still lingering.

The second great event that year was an hour-long ‘cultural program’. To show diversity, we included a musical skit as well as modern, classical and folk dances – a total of eleven items. We couldn’t use our study hour for practice, so I had to choreograph and teach the dancers from 9 pm until midnight. We all worked hard, all the dancers cooperated well and the audience very much enjoyed our program.

My friend posted this video of a performance I choreographed for Monday Assembly at Budhanilkantha School. I based the dance on the tradition of Sherpa people who, like my Tamang caste, came to Nepal long ago from Tibet. Because the dance has parts for both girls and boys but Choyu is all girls, some of us dressed as boys. I am the shorter of the two girls in red tops who enter from the left; then I dance in the center.

Dance always matches my mood. Most of my times are good. Then it expresses my happiness. In bad times, dancing helps me find who I am when I lose myself.

Doma: My Greatest Gift

Supplementary essay: “Please tell us about a gift, given or received, that was particularly meaningful to you. What was the gift, and why was it meaningful? (150 words max)” Doma & Niran after SLC Graduation

Doma wrote:

Birthday gifts, Christmas surprises and other presents are not what I am thinking of.  My greatest gift is the education my mother gave me.

My mother had no schooling and was married at fifteen.  My father abused her and soon left us.  Since then mom struggled to support us by working as a hotel maid. Somehow, she managed to keep me in a good school.

For Class 11 and 12 mom wanted me to go to Budhanilkantha School (BNKS) because it is one of the best. I was scared because most of its students are from rich families.  What I learned in that world is there is no limit to the future I can create.

My mother’s gift allows me to make a future so much better than her own life:  it has made me what I am, and what I can dream of to become. What an amazing gift!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Comments by Martin:

I wrote the following comments when Doma was admitted by Randolph College, the first of five excellent colleges.  I explain her decision to accept Hampshire College’s offer on the Doma Ghale page.

The picture is from when Doma graduated from Amrit School in what we call High School sophomore year.  Doma and her mom, Niran, are dressed in Tibetan style because Norkyel, her first education sponsor, had just honored them for Doma’s graduation in the “First Division with Distinction”.

We were thrilled then by what Doma had achieved, which Niran sacrificed so much to make possible.  Our hopes for Doma’s future were high.   Would she be accepted at Budhanilkantha School for Junior and Senior years?

Two years later, our hopes are again high.  Will Doma be able to come to the US for a college education?

There are some differences this time.  Doma is not afraid as she was about Budhanilkantha: she is excited about the far more different world here.  And for Niran, no sacrifice is possible to make US college affordable: one year at a good US college costs the same as two houses where she lives.

Doma may succeed and be accepted but we might fail to establish enough funding.  Nonetheless, I said, Doma and I will, in different aspects of the process, try our utmost.  And we did.

Doma has been accepted with enthusiasm by Randolph College.  Their academic scholarships range from $6K – $20K.  They granted Doma the maximum and will consider her for their Presidential Scholarship which covers all tuition costs.  The gap will be $26K annually if Doma does not get the Presidential Scholarship, $13K if she does, plus her travel and incidental expenses.

Randolph College is a fine institution where Doma would thrive.  She has also applied to 15 other colleges, some of which have substantially larger endowments than Randolph.  One of them could even cover all her costs including two fully paid trips home each year.

But so many factors go into admission decisions: there is no way to predict what choices Doma may have, or their net cost.  What we do know is I would not be able to provide all $30K-ish a Randolph education may cost.

I mention this because if Doma does need more financial aid than I can provide, I will invite everyone to help.  I would establish a dedicated bank account for Doma’s education, set up a Paypal link or equivalent to facilitate donations, and provide accounting and other updates.

April 2014 Update:  Details about the dedicated bank account and a Paypal link to donate to it are now on the Doma Ghale page.   There is also a Paypal link to donate to it on the Donate page.   Details about financial aid, donations and expenses are on the Accounting page.  Other updates are on the News page.

Doma: One Woman to Converse With

Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about? (250 word limit)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I want to talk with poet and novelist Parijat, whose real name was Bishnu Kumari Waiba. My principal at Amrit School is a low-caste Tamang woman like me who established that school thirty years ago when only high-caste men started schools. She is Parijat’s younger sister.

Parijat’s mother died when she was very young. She was raised by her strict father and grandparents. She said, “I did not get any inspiration from my home and I had to cheat my family to be as I am today.” I want to ask her who did inspire her and how did she develop the courage to overcome family opposition?

Born in Darjeeling in 1937, she came to Kathmandu when she was 17 and earned a BA degree.  She had fallen ill when she was 13, became paralyzed when she was 26, and my principal supported her after that. She says Parijat’s physical weakness never dampened her spirit. How did Parijat do that?

Parijat rebelled against anything that diminished women’s freedom. She wrote to change how people think, she started a women’s literature movement, and she supported many other social causes. Nepal still is among the most unfair societies for women. What would she say I should do now?

Most of all I want to ask Parijat what it was like in those days when the authoritarian regime of the king was at its height. Nepali society still presents obstacles to people like me.  I could learn so much by talking with Parijat.

Doma’s Common Application Essay

As I cried in the backseat on the way to my new school Mom was quick to say, “Don’t worry Doma, if it’s really bad you can come home.” The school gate was like a ghost, the first glimpse of something terrifying. The dense forest in the school compound had foxes roaming around. Their howling made me even more scared.

All these feelings had first popped up when the school called and said, “Doma is selected.” I wanted to go with my friends to the local school for junior and senior years of High School, but my mom and my education sponsor who has been paying my expenses and helping me for six years wanted me to go to Budhanilkantha School (BNKS) because it is one of the best. Most of its students are from rich families. Even children from the royal family used to go there, but I am from a low-caste poor family. At last I decided I would go. It is the best thing I ever did.

I started making friends. Nobody had ever heard about my previous school but I had seen theirs on TV or in the newspaper. All of us were from different ethnic groups, and we taught each other our languages, cultures and beliefs. In the rainy season, many insects come inside. One of my non-Buddhist friends would target them and before I could stop her that poor little thing would be flat underneath the book. She never did break that habit but I started to enjoy being with different people.

At the same time courses were moving fast. I wanted to study management and was nervous because BNKS offers only science. I found that quite easy but it took longer to learn how to manage time for studying. A few bookish fellows would scold us, “Go and study,” but we were learning to balance study for classes with learning other things. We were lucky that teachers were easily accessible because they lived on campus.

The school gave us a bundle of extra-curricular (EC) responsibilities in our senior year to explore ourselves. I love to dance and was made cultural captain of our house. I was excited to choreograph and manage dances for competitions. We also organized club programs, prepared proposals and budgets, and raised money from sponsors. I learned to manage programs and cooperate with members. I also learned that it is not easy to raise money.

I was in four clubs. In Creativity Club we organized an art workshop, inter-school art competition, and creativity week where I won six prizes. In Star Club we organized a two week inter-college football tournament. Near the end of senior year I was selected for the Mathematics competition at ‘Quanta 2012’ week at City Montessori School, Lucknow, India. It was a great opportunity to show our talents and meet foreign students. Some of us will be lifetime friends.

When I got back, I realized I missed not just a week of study at Quanta but also three weeks by over-committing to EC. One of my friends told me, “Learn to say no.” Suddenly I recognized I spent a lot too much time on EC. That`s because my culture trains girls to notice and do everything that should be done. Living with Americans will help me learn a better balance.

When I started at BNKS I thought I could not be with rich people or do well in science. I discovered that is not true. I learned I like managing things and leading people to cooperate. I started learning to balance many activities and commitments. Wherever I go to college I will be involved in many new activities as I was at BNKS. I have much to learn so I can be part of the generation that transforms Nepal.

About Doma

DomaI promised to write more about Doma, the Nepali girl for whose USA college applications so many of you gave such helpful advice. She submitted the last of 16 applications a couple of days ago and just got her first acceptance!

Doma has amazed me in the six years I have been her education sponsor. Her low-caste, very poor background is a great handicap in Nepal, especially for females. She has made extraordinary progress and will go far beyond what she has already achieved.

I met Doma’s mother, Niran, at the Kathmandu hotel where I began visiting in 2003. She had been working there since soon after her husband brought her from her village in the high hills. It was an arranged marriage and she was only 15 when Doma was born. She had no schooling, spoke only Tamang tribal language, and her husband soon abandoned her. The only job she could get was as a hotel maid. She learned Nepali and the hotel owner, Norkyel, helped her get a divorce. Her first few years were extremely difficult, especially because although she earned barely enough for necessities, she was determined to give Doma a good education. Remarriage is not an option for a Nepali woman with a child.

I chatted with Niran each time I visited because by then she had taught herself English. She also speaks Hindi and was learning Tibetan from a book left by a guest. When Nepal’s civil war ended in 2006, the Maoists began unionizing. I was friendly with Norkyel and he told me he had been giving Niran extra money for Doma’s schooling but he must stop. His staff was unionized now, so he must treat everyone the same. He asked if I would like to take over.

My wife had met Niran and was also attracted by her intelligence, humor and good work so I took over and began getting to know Doma. She was very shy. Tamang are close to the low end of the caste structure, her mom had only ever worked as a maid and Doma expected her future would be the same. I told her she could do better and must try because her mother had made great sacrifices to get her an education.

Doma did try, she slowly gained confidence, and her exam results improved. From her usual place in the middle, she reached 6th place, then 3rd. She said she could never do better because the top two students were wealthy and had tutors. The next year she came 2nd. That made a decisive difference. She had succeeded to a degree she hadn’t believed possible. Now she knew she might surprise herself still more.

Doma was 2nd again in 10th grade then transferred to a new school. Norkyel took her to several of the best ones, including Budhanilkantha (BNKS), the traditional choice of Nepal’s kings. Math was her strongest subject but she preferred arts and did not want to go to BNKS because they teach only science. We told her she should try. At last she told me: “I realized I am not a child now, so I should not be stubborn. Everybody says I should do this. Probably they are right.” She did try, and she was accepted.

How would she get on with high-caste kids from wealthy families who live in a way she had never imagined? It took a lot of courage at first, but she did fine. The only problem, she said, was her friends always had to pay for her when they went out from school. The school didn’t let kids out very often so it wasn’t a big problem.

Doma’s 10th grade results had been 85% in English and in the mid-90% range for math and science. In Junior year, she was 10th in her class of 40 with a mix of As and Bs despite having to navigate a very new environment. Then she grew over-confident and greatly over-committed to extracurricular activities. She was also sick during her final exams.

In Senior year, Doma led many cultural programs and did much volunteer work for school clubs. She was also selected for the annual ‘Quanta’ competition at City Montessori School, Lucknow, India. While taking part in the math competition, she led students from other countries in Nepali dance performance.

What Doma discovered about herself and her potential in two intensive years at BNKS is great preparation to overcome challenges she will meet in college and later.

Doma’s Math SAT 2 result is 730. Her spoken English is excellent but even the best Nepali schools do not provide good training in written English. Her best results so far are 89 for TOEFL, 490 for reading SAT and 410 for writing. While we wait for more admission decisions, she will continue to improve her written English and track her progress with more TOEFL tests.

In college, Doma will learn how to succeed with her dream. The Vice-Principal at her school before BNKS told me, “Doma is relentless. If she doesn’t understand something she will keep coming back with questions, more and more questions until she’s certain she does understand.” Her aspiration is to build a business in Nepal to provide good jobs for people like her and good services for customers. Nepal has very weak infrastructure in government, law and utilities. Doma believes that building a business will enable her to make the greatest contribution to transform her country.

Doma choreographed this dance shortly before she graduated from Budhanilkantha. It is, she told me: “Like Sherpa but not exactly. It’s a dance for people who live high in the mountains.” Sherpas and Doma’s Tamang people both came from Tibet long ago. Doma is the shorter of the two girls in red tops who enter from the left. She then dances in the center.

Over the next few weeks I will post some essays Doma wrote as part of her college applications. I’m so lucky to have found someone who is so worthwhile to help.