Recently, more than 140 teachers, graduates, and trainers, representing Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, joined 600 volunteers from local Nepali organizations to clean the Bagmati river, supporting a nationwide clean-up campaign, now in its 340th consecutive week. The Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Urban Development spearheaded the Clean Bagmati campaign to promote a healthy river ecosystem.
Th participants are part of the U.S. Department of State’s flagship English Access Microscholarship Program. The English Access Microscholarship Program provides a foundation of English language skills to talented youth from economically disadvantaged communities through two-years of after-school classes and intensive sessions. More than 900 Nepali students have participated in English Access Microscholarship Program in more than 22 locations throughout the country since 2013.
The volunteers enthusiastically rolled up their sleeves as they joined local volunteers to collect thousands of kilos of garbage and debris from the banks of the Bagmati river. The participants are in Nepal as a part of a larger program designed to help them to create and implement their own needs-based service projects, enhance their media literacy skills, and to develop a community of practice to link classrooms and alumni organizations virtually throughout South Asia. One Indian participant said, “It taught me the value of coming together.” A Pakistani teacher noted, “I had been doing some of this kind of work alone, but not like this and not collaborating with others.” Another participant added, “This summit has created an open, safe space of sharing intercultural practices.”