Maheshwar Giri works as Nepal in Data project coordinator for Bikas Udhyami. He is also a part-time teacher and Economics faculty member at National College, Baluwatar. Apart from that, he is a member of the US Embassy Youth Council (USYC) 2017 and has served in the Rotaract club of Kathmandu Metro. He feels that a teacher should stay up to date every day, because students are from a different generation and have a different outlook on life. The Catalyst talked to him about his teaching experiences and views on leadership.
How did you come to the field of teaching?
As a student, I used to help my friends in their studies. Helping them also helped me build my confidence in teaching. I found myself comfortable in making others understand what I know. I felt a passion in doing this. Then soon I completed my Masters and got an opportunity to experiment my teaching skills at National College at Baluwatar. I see this as my hobby rather than a profession. Also the movie ‘Dead Poet Society’, which I watch time and time again, motivated me to be a teacher.
Anything that students be surprised to find out about you?
I am the youngest teacher at the college and the age gap between me and my students does not vary much. So, I am more a friend to them than a teacher. They are more open with their problems to me and at the same time, I am frank to them. Sometimes they even share their personal problems with me. I have been a mentor to them in such situations as well.
Share something about your teaching experience. What is more interesting about it and what are the difficulties?
A teacher has doubt when students do not ask questions. A good teacher should initiate interaction. If students are more interactive, they ask a lot of questions. Finding students who are interested in engaging with you is a good feeling. It makes the teacher-student relationship extra special. The relation between me and my students is not just limited to the boundaries of the classroom. We interact after the classes, via email, go for a coffee or lunch and discuss various things. This is a pleasant moment for me.
The thing I am not satisfied with is the design of the course. The course is very limited. It is designed in such a way that there must be exams and one must complete the content plan and syllabus in time. But students are eager to know more about the topic. There must be room for a teacher also to prepare and plan the content if they are interested. A part-time teacher also faces limitations in what he/she can do.
What changes have you seen in education and students as part of your journey of a student to a teacher?
As a student one has a focus on passing exams. There are many subjects and even in my Bachelors, I had to study 42 subjects. These were just studied to score good marks. As a teacher one has to be prepared accordingly. If a student reads a book about a topic, the teacher, on the other hand, must read three different books and get the relevant points. It is not for yourself, but to be able to convince others. I feel I am learning more than teaching.
You are also the member of the US Embassy Youth Council. What motivated you to apply for this platform?
I applied, because I wanted to meet and interact with youths who are leading great initiatives in Nepal. It makes me motivated and adds enthusiasm to do something on my own. In the context of Nepal where there are lesser opportunities for networking, such type of gatherings can make a huge difference. It gives you the feeling that you are not alone in the field and provides a platform to share what I am doing to others and vice versa.
What are you planning to do while being the member of the council?
I had written in its application form that I want to contribute to enhancing data literacy. As I am working in an initiative called Nepal in Data, a gateway to development statistics of Nepal, I aim to motivate youths to make informed decisions by taking the help of available data and statistics. I am also interested in research field, so I am planning to uncover some of the development aspects of Nepal and conduct my research there.
Why do you think students should join such clubs or gatherings?
It is voluntary and hence a chance to learn from mistakes. If you are self-motivated, these type of clubs provide a stepping stone. If you were in any formal organization, there is not much room to make mistakes and the clubs prepare you for this. Moreover, you will get to know about society. It empowers you and you can expand your network, as it provides you with the opportunity to get to know people from different backgrounds. It also provides you with a space to grow and enhance your leadership skills.
What is leadership for you ?
Leadership for me is taking the initiative to achieve something. It is foreseeing the future based on logical reasoning and pursuing your goals to win. It is also about preparing well and accepting whatever the outcome is. Leadership should be concerned with identifying the problem and finding solutions to resolve those.
What do you think of leadership in Nepal?
It is not satisfactory I would say. Despite having sufficient numbers of young people as part of our population pyramid, we are failing to capitalize on the potential of young people to be drivers of change. We have the energy, knowledge of technology, dedication, but still why can’t we intervene? If we have more advantages than the younger generation, then we should be able to intervene. I believe that leadership is not something that someone will give to us, rather we should earn it.
How do you see your work contributing to Nepal’s development?
Every country’s development needs able leadership and educated citizens. To make its citizens well aware of what is happening and why, good education is needed. This is the area where teaching can contribute. Teaching can motivate students to be aware of and play good role in the development aspect. I am also playing my part as one of the teachers.
Anything you want to say to every student who are reading this?
I would tell the students to enjoy learning and be curious to learn new things. You will not learn as long as you are not curious about things and ask questions. Unless you are curious your learning curve does not expand and if you just stick to the books and teacher's notes your learning will actually decrease. One should be able to examine issues critically and think with a sixth sense to know what is going on around you in order to learn and move ahead.