a sabbatical rest, day 48
We have been in Kathmandu for about two weeks, and I’ve met with my Nepali colleagues three times. The work is beginning to take shape.
There are still details to manage, like another stamp in our passports, but I have a better idea of what I will be doing. Before I came, I knew the faculty here was interested in my background in curriculum development, and this will be, it turns out, the focus of my four and a half months here.
I was not certain if I would be teaching a course, but it’s clear now that most of my interactions will be with the faculty and not the students, although I will do a few lectures and perhaps a seminar. Mostly, I will be working with a curriculum committee to revise and update their journalism program.
This suits me. Curriculum development is some of the most satisfying work I’ve ever done. I enjoy seeing the patterns, describing the outcomes, filling the gaps. I’ve done it several times—in fact, I think about education mostly in these terms. Where do we want the students to go, and how do we help them get there? I’ve been thinking about this since I started teaching almost 50 years ago.
I’m even more excited about the team I’m joining. These are thoughtful men, with theoretical perspectives and practical experiences. The department head, Professor Chiranjivi Khanal, started as a reporter and has been at the university for over 30 years. An associate professor, Prabal Raj Pokhrel, did media studies in the Soviet Union in the 90s, lecturer Deb Raj Aryal is a respected working journalist, and lecturer Ghama Raj Luintel has extensive experience in radio. There are others I have not met yet. But I have much to learn from the diversity and experience of this team. I am eager to hear their stories and share them here at thedaysman.
Journalism education here is not without its challenges. Media outlets often (usually) reflect partisan perspectives, for reasons I will explore in a future post. Infrastructure is limited. The small faculty is stretched thin; they oversee an additional 60+ constituent campuses and even more affiliated colleges. They are currently having to offer courses both online and face-to-face. Tribhuvan University has 600,000 students, which suggests bureaucracies I have not experienced in a language I don’t speak. (Fortunately, my colleagues speak good English.)
But a new building is under construction, with additional space and lab equipment for the journalism program. They seem ready for a fresh start, and I feel honored to be part of it. Building on what they have already created, we will be working to consider what journalism education can and should look like in Nepal.
I’m setting up an office in the second bedroom of our apartment. By home office, think desk, chair, printer, and desk lamp. Getting the chair delivered involved 9 phone conversations with a driver who knew less English than I know Nepali, and that isn’t much. My friend Richen and I went on his cycle to buy the printer, then I came back with it in a cab. Later we went to buy a whiteboard and brought that back on the cycle. (I use a whiteboard to visualize my thoughts—I can barely work without one.)
So, I am ready to begin. I’m reviewing the current curriculum and making notes. I’m reading three English newspapers and sorting out the raajaniti (politics). Katie and I are figuring out our routines. And there is important work to do.
I like important work.