A moving biography: Aashish Pokhrel is from Nepal. The fact that he is now studying at TUM cannot be taken for granted. A political revolution changed the course of his life quite early. In this interview he reports on his life’s journey from an SOS Kinderdorf to Munich.
Aashish, your story is very moving. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Aashish Pokhrel: I was born in Nepal in 1991 and lived with my parents and four brothers in Gorkha, a village that is about 150 kilometers away from the capital Kathmandu. My father was something like the village mayor and a member of the political party that was in power back then. In 1997, there were riots in Nepal. When the Maoist (communist) rebels came to Gorkha, they killed my father. My mother was injured severely, so she had to spend two months in hospital.
What happened to you and your brothers?
Aashish Pokhrel: First, we stayed with relatives – but we couldn’t stay there for very long. Close friends of my parents then helped to find places in an SOS Kinderdorf for me and my little brother. My older brothers stayed in Gorkha because they went to school there.
How was it like in the SOS Children’s Village?
Aashish Pokhrel: There were 15 families living – a mother and ten children in every house. In my house, I was the oldest. When we came home from school, we did our homework, and I helped my younger brothers and sisters. After that, we helped our mother with the housework or went to play outside.
You call them your mother and your brothers and sisters. What is your relationship to your SOS-family like?
Aashish Pokhrel: I always say that I have two mothers – my birth mother and my SOS-mother. My relationship with her and my SOS-siblings is very good. I give her a call from Germany as often as I can. She is very proud and glad for me. Unfortunately, it is quite unusual for SOS-children to make it to a university, especially to a university abroad. I wish I could be an inspiring example.
How did you manage to get at TUM?
Aashish Pokhrel: I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Nepal, but the quality of teaching in Nepal is not very good. That’s why I – like everyone else – had hoped to be able to continue my studies in America. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out, primarily because of the high tuition fees. Thus, I checked for the best European universities with a suitable course of studies and found the TUM. I applied and was accepted, so I am now enrolled in the Master’s course of Transportation Systems since last October.
How do you like Germany?
Aashish Pokhrel: I like it very much, but it was quite a change. When I left Nepal, it was 35 ° C. When I got off the plane in Munich, it was freezing cold. At first, it was difficult to find an apartment, and the language is difficult, but everyone is really nice to me and I get a lot of support from the TUM. I even managed to get a scholarship, the “Deutschlandstipendium”. This helps a lot – not only financially, but also in the way of a recognition of my achievements. It’s a great motivation.
How are you paying for your studies?
Aashish Pokhrel: I worked at a company for two years after my Bachelor´s and saved up some money. But it didn´t last long. Now I get support from the Deutschlandstipendium an the SOS Kinderdorf. Otherwise I couldn´t afford to live in Germany - it´s so expensive.
What do you like most about the Deutschlandstipendium?
Aashish Pokhrel: It´s great that it recognizes alternative forms of achievement, too. I´d like to thank my sponsor the Karl Max von Bauernfeind-Verein in particular for their support and for giving me this opportunity.
Did you ever visit Gorkha, the village of your childhood, again?
Aashish Pokhrel: I went there again once, ten years after the murder of my father. It has changed a lot. I remember that there was not much light, so we had our evening meals by the light of a candle. When I went there again, there was electricity and running water. But I would not want to live there any more.
What are your plans for when you have your Master’s degree?
Aashish Pokhrel: Maybe, I’d like to stay in Germany and work here for one or two years to gather practical experience. After that, I definitely want to go back to Nepal to work there. Until then, I won’t be able to see my family. I simply don’t have the money for a holiday in Nepal.