Friday, August 30, 2013

Hard Work, Personal Sacrifice Help Teacher Save This Struggling Nepalese School

By Nischal Kharel
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
POKHARA, Nepal – As we travel the twists and turns of life’s road, we meet obstacles and problems, but along the way, we can also meet people who make a difference and can teach us.
Krishna Prasad Sapkota, who put the education of many children ahead of his own needs, is such a man.
Not long ago, I went to the hostel of Pokhara United Academy where I used to reside for my studies. When I arrived there, the respected headmaster of the school was sitting on the chair on the middle of the yard, dressed in casual clothing, reading the newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee.
As soon as I reached, him, he asked me to have a seat and ordered Hari Sapkota, the cook at the school, to make coffee. We began talking about the school’s current situation and after awhile, his wife, MadhuMaya Sapkota, arrived with a coffee. I greeted her and asked her to have a seat nearby.
When I asked Sapkota about his childhood, he said he was born Oct. 1, 1964 in Thumakot, a village located in the foothills of central Nepal. His mother was MadhuMaya Sapkota and father Bamdev Sapkota.
When he said his mother’s name I was quite surprised because his mother’s and wife’s name were the same – something they both found funny.
Sapkota gave his National High School exams, widely known in Nepal as S.L.C., from the Janakalyan Secondary School. After completion of his 12th grade degree from Prithvi Narayan Campus, he returned to his village and got married.
He stayed there looking after his father’s farm for some years and then he said that he got a strange restless feeling, wanting to do some things on his own. He talked about it with his parents and, with their permission and blessing, he did so.
In 2003, Sapkota came to Pokhara in search of a job. Shortly afterwards, he heard about a Green Valley School, a school in critical economic condition and about to be closed.
Sapkota, who eventually became principal there, refused to take a salary. Instead, he borrowed money from his relatives and invested it in the school to upgrade the facilities and infrastructure.
After the improvements, more students enrolled. Sapkota held meetings with parents and teachers and incorporated their ideas and thoughts.
It wasn’t easy. He faced his own economic and social problems, but he didn’t lose hope.
“I did it for the prestige of the school and for the future of students,” he said.
He wasn’t alone, though. He had hope and support during that critical time.
“In each and every success and problem my wife was always with me,” he said, tears coming to his eyes.
Today, the former Green Valley Boarding School is Pokhara United Academy, a four story building renowned inside Pokhara valley. Sapkota said he has secured more supporters and investors.
The school has underground parking facilities, an auditorium, a library with internet access and a science lab – most of the facilities needed for the school.
Teachers must notice whether their students are understanding what they are teaching, Sapkota said, and always be kind and helpful.
Students, he said, should always be patient, curious, hard working and focused. They should listen carefully.
He said he was very happy to get an education – something that wasn’t easy to get in Nepal when he was younger. He got his education through patience, focus and hard work, and because of that, he found success in life.
Sapkota was a bit upset when he said he couldn’t give society as much of his time, talent or money as he wished and also wished he could have had more time for his family and children.
With tears in his eyes, he said that because of his own busy schedule, he didn’t even notice when his three children grew up. They weren’t awake yet in the morning when he left for his office, he said, and when he returned home at the end of the day, they were already asleep.
I asked him what he would say to his family and others about this.
He said the condition of the country wasn’t good. The government wouldn’t fix things for people, so parents have to take care of their own lives and their children, keeping them away from bad activities like smoking, drinking and drugs.
Nischal Kharel is a student of Gaky's Light Fellowship, an EVA Nepal program that is in partnership with Youth Journalism International.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ESPN President Brings Vision, Direction

Rae Martin /
An outdoor basketball court is tucked into the interior of ESPN's sprawling campus.

By Rae Martin
Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. – In some social circles, the sport of football is synonymous with meatheads and students whose only claim to college acceptance is athletic skill.
For an untold portion of players that may be true, but the amount of thought and creativity shown swirling in the air at ESPN’s worldwide headquarters in Bristol is decidedly unlike anything of that stereotypical athlete.
ESPN President John Skipper
Passion and creativity in sports without direction is useless to put into a model a company can use. This is where the CEO, or company president in this case, comes in to apply vision, motive, and leadership.
Filling that role currently at ESPN is a mister John Skipper.
Don’t let his southern accent and charming ramble fool you. His words ooze sophistication and a self-assured business sense.
“We like competition,” said Skipper. “It makes us sharper.”
As sharp as the glasses he was wearing during the Q and A session? One may think not!
When asked about the apparent controversy surrounding former SportsCenter anchor Keith Olbermann’s return to the network after an acrimonious departure more than a decade ago, the president gave an interesting reply:
“What Jon Stewart does for news, Keith will do that for sports.”
The new show, which will air weeknights at 11 p.m. starting Monday, Aug. 26, won’t be political, said Skipper, except when politics intersects with sports.
“It’ll be provocative and fun,” Skipper said.
While politics can be divisive, Skipper said, sports brings people together.
“It’s what people talk about,” he said.
He remained confident that even in today’s golden age of television, amidst intense competition for sports contracts and viewership, there is only one faithful sports audience.
“There is no different audience; if you’re interested in sports, you’re watching ESPN,” said Skipper.
It was a self-confident statement. So confident in ESPN’s viewer base that it wasn’t long until one brave inquirer begged the question, “No one stays on top forever. What plans or concerns do you have about large segments of your audience going over to an alternate source for sports-related news?”
Skipper didn’t toss the question around for long. To him, the sports industry is not a pie getting smaller, but rather a market getting continually bigger as new means of distributing content opens up.
“Sports are ascendant,” he said. “Our goal is to grow our audience, not see it shrink in front of us.”
Expect to see original and premium content from ESPN into the foreseeable future.

YJI Returns to ESPN

Reporter Rae Martin is at ESPN today. Watch for more.