Mentor Jr. - a echo of WNSO - must have organisation
By Bharat Thapa
I come from Nepal. From my student days dating back to the 1990s to date, any Nepali who wants to study abroad (and I think this applies to all of the Third World) has to rely on education consultancies - private profit driven companies - to get information and admission to any educational institutions abroad. Most of the time, these companies push students to the country and institution where they receive the most commission, playing with the younger generation's future. They provide false information to convince students that their recommended country or institutions are the best for their future.
To prevent this flow of profit-driven, incorrect information, during the 2000s I set up the website wnso.org and www.chautari.wnso.org. It helped thousands of Nepali students free of charge to find information for their studies beyond. Students from Nepal were able to directly communicate with students who were already studying abroad via our forum. That gave them information from those who were already there as students, and so were able to bypass these private companies.
Thousands benefited initially, however once these beneficiaries landed in the country of their choice for further education with our help, many of them were either too busy or reluctant to share their experiences with those back home who wanted to study abroad. The reason was clear: once anyone lands abroad with our help, they wish no other people receive such guidance due to selfish human nature. People from Nepal (and the Third World), once they go abroad to study, their social status becomes very highly respected back home, and in order to maintain that high social status, many of them who landed abroad did not wanted to volunteer back to the organisation that they had benefited so greatly from, and this was to prevent other students from gaining a similar status. Consequently, our initial volunteers started to graduate, then relocate due to their jobs, and finally became very busy with their careers and families. We ran out of volunteers in each country and slowly we became deserted.
We tried to bring more volunteers by going to newspapers and the media back home, but the wealthy private education consultancies had such eye-catching advertisements in Radio, Newspaper, TV and Billboards across the city that made students feel that they would be much safer with private consultancy, and that their future would be much brighter if they went to study abroad through those private companies. Students only realised that they were conned once they landed abroad, however due to their social status back home, they did not share their suffering. Rather, they lied by telling how good life they were having abroad. That false information continues to flow today and private companies are making greater fortunes every day, while many youngsters are spending a fortune and are flying out of Nepal with incorrect information and with a hope that their future is about to shine within next few days and weeks.
That trend pushed our organisation into a loss of consciousness today. Our slogan "By the students, for the students" has remained only in words, but sadly not in much action today.
When I read about MentorJr. for the first time and listened to the interview of Jessie with the Sun, I was in tears. It reminded me of my days as a student when I tried to share information and guidance so that everyone who wanted to study abroad could do so without being needing to be rich, without being tricked, without being conned. They can choose the correct subject they want to study further and can go to the country that suits their budget without generating unnecessary expenses. We had volunteers from many countries that Nepali Students wanted to go for further study.
Although Mentor Jr. and wnso.org have different purposes, they both serve one thing in common: providing free education, by the students, for the students.
As soon as I knew Mentor Jr. was real thing, I asked my eldest daughter, who is in Year 9, to join as a mentor. But after talking to Jessie on message, I realised Mentor Jr. only takes volunteers from Year 10 onward. I want all my three daughters to get involved in this organisation. I told my eldest daughter, who knows about wnso.org, that Mentor Jr. is another version of WNSO. You need to get involved to make my dream come true, by helping other students who cannot afford paid service.
My experience is that such an organisation needs plenty of volunteers from across the country, and that workload and management need to be shared so that the organisation can flourish. At some point, the founder will need to think about their own future and their family’s. This cannot be a full time job for one, therefore a new generation of volunteers will need to join regularly while the senior volunteers make their way out towards their career while still, if they wish, working as advisors to the organisation. It needs funding to manage its presence so that the young can volunteer to be mentors, and old people like me can donate a few coins so this idea can survive for many generations to come.
Thank you for reading my story.
By Bharat Thapa