Interview with Mr. Mahabir Pun

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Friday, 28 December 2007 
Interviewed by - Priyata Thapa, Source : Nebraska Nepalese Society 

Question: Being an international student myself, I have had experiences of culture shock. Can you describe to us your transition from being a student in a Nepali village to being an undergraduate student in an advanced country like the United States?
When I came to Kearney first, I was quite matured- about 32. Maybe that’s why; I didn’t have much of the culture shock experience.

 Question: Wasn’t it a difficult task to teach the students of Nangi village to build a computer where most of them had hardly seen it?
I don’t think it is that difficult a job. I believe that anybody can learn to do that within a couple of days, if they have attained middle or high school education and they have the enthusiasm to learn. In fact, many of them can not only assemble a computer but can also help in troubleshooting problems or in wireless configuration.

Question: How does the older generation of Nangi Village respond to this accomplishment or this project?
The older generation is happy to see their children get the opportunity to learn about this new technology that assists people in so many ways. They are glad that the residents are able to use computers and its benefits; older people may not be able to use computer themselves but they get help from their children in sending messages and other activities.

Question: How many awards have you achieved so far? Had you imagined of all these achievements? Did you think you would achieve the Ramon Magsaysay award?
I don’t work in the hope of awards. In fact, I wasn’t really familiar with the Ramon Magsaysay award until I got it myself. I also was given awards like “Best Social Innovation Award in the Overall Category,” by the Institute for Social Inventions, UK and “Development Marketplace Award” by the World Bank, U.S.A. I wasn’t familiar with them too- I should say they discovered me! It is always good to get rewarded but I don’t really look forward to receiving awards.

Question: Who is your source of inspiration or your role model? Any social figure that has always inspired you?
That’s a difficult one. It would be my father mainly; he always reminded me of the significance of education and always supported my education despite of adversities. He took our whole family from Myagdi to Chitwan just to send me to school; he always had the desire to send me to high school and college. Talking about social figures, social workers like Florence Nightingale and Mahatma Gandhi have always been an inspiration since the time I read about them.

Question: What do you think basically helped you achieve so much so far?
I don’t think I have achieved “so much” so far. There are so many things that I would like to do in future. In order to work in social field, you have to learn from the community; I have been learning all these years and I still have a lot to learn and do. I am still on my quest for knowledge and service.

Question: Did you think you would get so much appreciation from all over the country? How does it feel?
No, I had not imagined of this much recognition or appreciation.

Question: What do you have to say to the youngsters who think Nepal cannot provide enough opportunities and to the people who believe students come to the foreign countries to flee from their responsibilities towards the nation?
It is true that Nepal doesn’t have many facilities or opportunities for the younger generation compared to the advanced countries. So, I am not critical about studying abroad. The young generation prefers and needs to stay in places with ample opportunities. Communication and technology have shrunk the world, and have helped us communicate and travel anywhere in no time. Where you stay or live is not important, what matters is how much you love, care and serve your fellow people and contribute towards making your homeland a better place-just don’t forget your place and people.

Question: What, in your point of view, is the most essential ingredient for success?
(With the “obviously” laugh) It’s hard work definitely. You have to have vision and then toil to follow that vision. Only hard work can shape your dreams into reality, else they will remain wishes.

Question: How long do you think will Nepal take to be networked in every nook and corner?
Technically, it won’t take a long time. The leading problem in networking the whole country so far is the scarcity of power to use computers or have wireless networks, which rural areas lack. The good news is that some of such rural areas have been using sources like solar energy and micro hydro power. It will take some time obviously but not that long, probably about 15 years.

Question: What advice do you have for the parents to encourage their children to pioneer such novel attempts for the country?
Parents in Nepal or America or anywhere in the world want their children to excel in life- having better jobs, making money, getting power; they always want to see their children successful. I suggest them to provide their children with enough opportunities to the best of their capability. Some parents may not be able afford them but they should try as much as they can.

Question: What are your last words for the children and youngsters of the current generation?
The world is changing very fast and I suggest everyone to move with that pace; if you don’t act smart enough, u will lag behind. Work harder and make yourself capable to run with the fast-changing world.