Just don't give up; you will never know what has been there for you

by Annal DhunganaNepal (ELP 2016)

Brought up in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) with limited resources for the polishing of our academic and professional excellence to develop ourselves as a future environmental leaders, we are always in need of advance training to improve our skills and make our activities appreciated by international communities. But there is no free lunch. After more than 100 emails correspondence with donors and five years of a wait with acceptance in all five attempts, I finally got the opportunity to participate in the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program in the 2016 cohort. Oh! I just want to remember my efforts to convince the donors for participation and repeating sharing of my investment and patience had paid off. It is a perfect course for a mid-career professional like me.

It was back there in Nepal, my excitement reached its height after receiving the schedule with distinguished professors as Facilitators and the profiles of the fellow participants with diverse experiences. I could instantly imagine how wonderful it would be learning for three weeks with such eminent Professors and promising fellow participants. I found the things beyond my imagination after reaching the end of this program. Thie mesmerizing stories behind the each and every tree around the Muir Woods Monuments to the inspiring collaborative leadership and storytelling session were behind my imagination.

Jagadish, my fellow participant from Nepal, whom I met for the first time in my life at the Dubai Airport (transit) was the beginning and still waiting for more surprises until the end of the program. It was a long flight all the way from Nepal to reach San Francisco but my tiredness was surpassed by my enthusiasm. We came to Berkeley all the way by the BART, my first experience in a metro train. The next dat as the course kicked off, we started to learn more amazing stories from friends and professors.

The childhood stories by a fellow participant - Susanna, and the stories of the largest slum and largest nature reserve from Kenya were really heart touching. This opportunity has helped me relate the stories of friends for better understanding of the environmental issues. I could experience how the professors from the world class university put the environmental issues on the table and how the professionals from the developing world perceive these things. I now realize a quote - there is no such right or wrong thing; it is the eyes of the viewer that make it so.

My own story of working on environmental advocacy during my initial days of my career with an NGO, Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness in Nepal was inspiring for others. My fellow participants from Africa and other countries were interested in the triangular model of Expert-Youth-Children and Community interface.

I am a great believer of the quote, "Solutions come from sharing and only thing you can do is - Just put the problem among dedicated group of people." My belief is affirmed; the problems shared by the fellow participants from - Formation of integrated urban development master plan for Nairobi - to - Green Forest Program in Vietnam is getting towards solutions. It is either in the dinner or at the field trip, I found myself and fellow participants discussing to solve the problems we are facing in our countries.

This ELP program, had I missed, really would never know the first hand prospective on the nitty-gritty of global problems in environmental conservation and integrate multi-cultural perspectives towards its solution. Besides, the ideas of collaborative decision-making and conflict resolution, subject specific classes, leadership and marketing skills and most of all storytelling and learning from failures was the wonderful knowledge and skills, I will take with me to my place.