Amir Maharjan explains why UC’s Worldfest holds special meaning for international student organizations.
University of Cincinnati graduate student Amir Maharjan vividly remembers the first thing he noticed about Cincinnati. Maharjan is from Kathmandu – the capital city of Nepal – a bustling city with big crowds and non-stop traffic, he says. And, despite the traffic jam complaints of commuters in Cincinnati, on Maharjan’s arrival to the Queen City, he says his first impressions were that the city was clean and peaceful.
Maharjan and the Nepalese Student Association are looking forward to sharing more about their country and culture as the student group organizes its first event as part of UC’s annual spring Worldfest that celebrates a world of different cultures on UC’s campus. Most of the Worldfest events are free and open to the public, and are planned by UC’s international student organizations. Events feature art, food, music and dance.
The Nepalese Student Association, founded last year, works to welcome Nepalese students and help them adjust to living and learning far away from home. “The club is a good support system for students,” Maharjan says. “As international students, when we first come to the university, we’re not as familiar with rules and customs here. This is a very supportive group that has also found support from Nepalese families in the Cincinnati USA community.”
The organization is also dedicated to building awareness about the various cultural and social aspects of Nepal. The 20 or so students who belong to the organization serve as social ambassadors for their country’s traditions.
“Worldfest at UC is a great opportunity for international students to show their culture, traditions and festivals,” Maharjan says. “We are very excited about the programming. There will be music, folk dancing and traditional costume.”
Maharjan is pursuing his doctoral degree in physics from the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences (A&S), where he also earned a master’s degree in physics. He has been pursuing his higher education at UC for the past five-and-a-half years, and plans to defend his thesis this summer. His family – a wife, Sangeeta, and a six-year-old son Anjan – have obtained permanent residency in the United States. He says he was offered admission into three American universities, but chose UC because he could pursue both a master’s and doctoral program in physics. Maharjan had been working as a physics teacher in Nepal before he began exploring pursuing a higher education in the U.S.
Nepal is described as being rich in biodiversity with breathtaking national parks. The tourist industry is one of the country’s prime sources for economic growth. The art and the architecture are rich in religious influences as well as in history.
In Cincinnati, Maharjan says he is drawn to the city’s parks, again reflecting the peace that he found so distinctive on his first arrival to Cincinnati. “I think Mt. Storm Park is my favorite,” he says.
UC’s Worldfest celebration gets underway on April 24 and runs through May 3. A popular tradition as part of Worldfest, the Worldfest International Festival, will take place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday, April 30, on McMicken Commons.