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Assistant Foreign Minister meets alumni in Nepal

Posted: 30 May 2023

Nepal, Alumni, Impact,

Australia’s Assistant Foreign Minister met Australian alumni in Kathmandu and highlighted the impact they have had on Nepal’s development. 

At an evening reception on 16 May 2023 hosted by the Australian Ambassador, HE Ms Felicity Volk, Australia’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Tim Watts MP, met with Australian alumni from Nepal. The event took place next to Boudha Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest stupa in Kathmandu Valley, and one of the most significant in Asia.

In his address, Assistant Minister Watts remarked, “It is hard to overstate the contribution that Australian alumni make to Nepal in government, the private sector, and non-government organisations.” He noted the alumni’s “vital contributions in infrastructure development, improving the lives of people with disability, empowering women and girls, and strengthening health, education, and sustainable energy production and transmission, amongst others.”

Assistant Minister Tim Watts stands with the Australian Ambassador and alum Ashmina Ranjit stand adjacent to the publication “Australia Awards: A celebration of alumni impact in South Asia”

(from left to right): Ambassador Felicity Volk, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts MP and alum Ashmina Ranjit next to the publication “Australia Awards: A celebration of alumni impact in South Asia”

Ambassador Volk said, “I can think of no day that I’ve spent here which has not brought me into contact with alumni and reminded me of the invaluable contributions you are making to Nepal’s development, prosperity and shaping of an inclusive society that looks after all its people.” Ambassador Volk noted alumni’s contributions to the “vibrant and growing bilateral relationship” between Australia and Nepal.

During the event, Assistant Minister Watts announced that Australia would offer 21 Australia Awards Scholarships to Nepalis for study in Australia in 2024, an increase from the seven scholarships offered in 2023.

Tim Watts shakes hands with alum Mr Madhu Kumar Marasini

Tim Watts with alum Mr Madhu Kumar Marasini, Secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies

The following six alumni, representing diverse sectors, provided remarks on their leadership work in Nepal, their contributions to Nepal’s development and in their communities, highlights of their time in Australia, and their continued linkages with Australia:

  • Dr Samarika Dahal — Forensic Odontologist/Head Dental Teaching Hospital, Institute of Medicine, Kathmandu
  • Mr Ananta Paudyal — President, Association of Nepalese Alumni from Australia (ANAA)
  • Ms Shila Thapa — President, Down Syndrome Society Nepal
  • Mr Khem Lakai — Chief Executive Officer, Global Academy of Tourism & Hospitality Education (GATE) College
  • Dr Sunita Maleku — President, Autism Care Nepal Society
  • Mr Madhu Kumar Marasini — Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies

In addition to the Australian government delegation, officials from the NSW Art Gallery, and Australian Embassy partners, the more than 50 reception guests included alumni from a wide range of Nepal’s sectors and fields of expertise – including government, non-government, civil society, the private sector, and academia.

Even the event venue, Himalayan Java Café, had significance in that its founder Mr Gagan Pradhan is an Australia alum. Traditional music during the event was provided by a musician from the Sarangi Social Enterprise, which was founded by Australian Sandra Fiedeldy.