‘It is important for other people to have this opportunity. I have been lucky with these opportunities, but you shouldn’t have to be lucky to receive an education. There are a lot of students with potential but no opportunities.’
Samikshya Dhami is originally from Nepal where both of her parents are teachers. The government education available in her village was not good and so her parents made the decision to send her to Kathmandu when she was only two years old to live with her grandmother. This in itself was already a sacrifice for her to receive an education as the cost of living in the city is much higher. Samikshya applied to Budhanilkantha School and was accepted, but the fees were too expensive for her family. She reapplied for a scholarship and was successful and from then on half of her education was paid for by the government and half by her parents.
‘Pestalozzi was a stepping stone and one of the most important things that led me here to Smith College. The diversity at Pestalozzi allowed me to discover who I was, making interactions more fruitful. It made me think about ‘How do I represent my country?’ or ‘Who am I?’ You discover more about yourself and you can reflect on who you are. Education was a holistic experience at Pestalozzi. The passion I have for the environment and leadership and injustices and justices, the foundation of that was very much strengthened at Pestalozzi.’
During the summer of 2017, Samikshya went back to Nepal to help establish a library with another Pestalozzi student. They did this in a school built by a Pestalozzi alumnus. Alongside this and because of her passion for debating, they set up a model UN programme teaching the skills they had learnt whilst at Pestalozzi to other students. Finally, and in my opinion most impressively, they had fundraised whilst in England to allow them to pay the fees for 12 students who currently attend a government school.
As part of her university application, Samikshya Dhami wrote a piece on her experience challenging the corrupt and patriarchal structures of Nepal whilst in a post office.
‘What makes me most happy is interacting with people and challenging power structures’.
She is currently the treasurer of the South Asian Student Association and is also in the process of opening a Students for a Free Tibet group, something which she learnt about whilst at Pestalozzi.
She has also been accepted onto the LED Program – Leadership for Equity Centre Design, where a court of 12 people meet every week to design events for the outside community that inspire people to be leaders and involve the local community.
When Samikshya was first accepted into Smith College, they sent her a poster listing all of the attributes a Smith student should have, which she proudly hung up in her bedroom. It made me smile to see her walk past this very same poster, two years later on their campus because she has grown so much and further nurtured so many of these important values centred around kindness, intelligence and inclusivity. Samikshya will also be going to Paraguay later this year to work on a US Embassy programme and design community projects to lead Paraguay students to US opportunities in education.
Samikshya has always been one of the most powerful female students I have encountered and much of that is due to her empathy, integrity and willingness to listen. In the future, she hopes to go back to Nepal and work on community orientated projects through NGOs centred on policies and community involvement around climate change.