I was honored to receive an invitation to speak at the First International Nepali Women's Literary Convention in New York City. I prepared a short talk for the hundred or so academics, authors, performers, reporters, and other members of the Nepali community. The transcript follows:
You may not have any money in the bank, but you own your own media company.
The courage to use and amplify your voice in order to bring awareness to what matters to you is worth far beyond anything Wall Street can imagine.
Writing provides a lens through which past events can be analyzed and current moments can be processed.
It’s the ever-present sounding board for your ideas and vision.
The ideal confidant, waiting day in and day out — at 3am, during war, before your wedding, when there is no one else to listen.
A platform uniquely yours to create.
A meditation forcing the writer to concentrate on a strand of thoughts just long enough to pen them down.
Writing gives you the ability to pound on the walls of whatever container you’ve found yourself in and reach for the unknown.
Writing is the window allowing us to look into the life of another. We are gifted a sacred key to things both seen and unseen.
When we write, we present ourselves as the fragile beings we truly are. We become susceptible to scrutiny and criticism. We open ourselves to that which we have shrunk away from, while at the same time stepping out from the shadow of insecurity and tackling exactly what gave us pause to begin.
Writing empowers. For both reader and audience, trust and pride and courage is exchanged. Writing can serve to provoke and inspire, bring light into darkness, and share traditions of the past. As Banira Giri has shown, writing can remind us of our connections to each other and to our surroundings.
Writing perseveres. By asking questions, poking, helping each other navigate unclear territory, problems can be solved to lead countries and communities forward, highlighting important issues with fact and song, as Trishna and Unnati both have, and as Dr. Krishna teaches others to do.
Writing strengthens. For both community and the individual, writing provides stepping stones for future generations to follow.
It has been said that a country’s strength rests on the shoulders of its women.
By continuing to find new ways to be heard and by using different forms to share our voices — which today, we have more opportunities than ever before with social media, print, oral tradition, music and performance — we can instigate education, progress, and look for ways to better not just our own lives but the lives of those around us.
Since returning from Nepal, I’ve used my writing to share stories and portray both the celebrations and the struggles of the people I met during my travels. It’s my aim to promote leadership and opportunity throughout the country, as many of you here have also set out to do.
I am honored to be here among so many talented and passionate writers, academics, entrepreneurs, and artists. It is my great privilege to be continually welcomed into the family that is Nepal.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey with me.
I loved participating in this event and meeting so many new friends. I am continually humbled to find myself in the presence of such giving, talented, hardworking, and committed individuals.