Meet a Student: Bhoja “Narayan” Shrestha
Bhoja “Narayan” Shrestha grew up in a remote village in central Nepal, with no major roads, electricity or television. “All my school life, I studied with a small kerosene lamp,” he says. “Radio was the only modern thing for me. … I used to listen to the radio for the news, for music, for information.” That battery-operated “luxury” eventually led Shrestha, now a student in UB’s graduate Global Affairs and Human Security program, to a career in broadcasting.
During his high-school years in Kathmandu, Shrestha had access to newspapers and read voraciously, often about the Maoist insurgency that began in 1996 and eventually killed thousands. “That was the point that I thought, as a citizen, as a human being, I should do something for my country and for my people,” he recalls. “I thought media could be the best avenue for me to bring a change, to tell the real story.”
He studied media at a university in the city and went on to cover politics and the Maoist insurgency for Radio Sagarmatha (the Nepalese word for “Mount Everest”) before leaving in 2007 to work as a senior producer and presenter of a radio and television program for BBC Media Action, a charity wing of the media conglomerate. His mission: “to help the Nepali people and leaders, so the voice of the people would be heard,” Shrestha explains. “The first interview I did was with the then-Nepali prime minister [G.P. Koirala]; it was the only interview he did in his lifetime. The second was with the head of the Maoist party.”
Shrestha’s popularity grew immensely, and he became a go-to figure (with 189,000 Twitter followers) for bringing citizens’ concerns to light. “Students, school teachers, social activists, local political leaders, they’d come to me to talk,” he says.
Seven years later, Shrestha wanted to further his education. He learned about UB from an alumnus he met in Nepal. “Global affairs and human security was the area I was looking for,” he says. “It’s a little bit about world affairs, a little bit about NGOs, and I thought this is the kind of subject I’m interested in.”
After graduation, he plans to work for a nonprofit organization in an underdeveloped country and then return to his broadcast roots in Nepal. “Every day, I got to see dozens of people, different issues, ideas,” he says. “Some of them are difficult problems [for which] I don’t have a solution, but still, it was making my life complete. That part I miss.”