When I first applied for the ALFP Program in early 2006, I confess that it was mainly because I needed a break from newspaper deadlines in Kathmandu. I looked at the two-month fellowship as an opportunity to get to know about Japan, and perhaps do some relaxed sight-seeing.
How wrong I was. On arrival at International House in Roppongi, and after the first few days of orientation and lectures, it was obvious that the ALFP offered much more than a holiday break. It was a great learning experience not just about Japan, its history, culture and political economy, but also to network and learn about other countries in the Asian region. It strengthened my identity as an Asian, and changed my perspective on world affairs.
The lectures were intensive, and I soon learnt that you got more from it if you prepared in advance. The speakers were all first-class academics with a broad worldview and experience, and overall we got an immersion course in what it means to be a Japanese and an Asian.
One of the major attractions of the ALFP is the venue: International House, which is an oasis of calm and harmony in the middle of an urban setting. The library that looks out into the garden through large windows provided me an excellent opportunity to complete work on my first book on the Nepal conflict, and I spent most of my free time there. The tranquil ambiance made it possible to complete the manuscript in time for publishing when I got back to Nepal.
The other attraction was the field trips to different parts of Japan, and the one I found most inspirational was our group trip to Okinawa. Personally for me, the trip to the Himeyuri Peace Memorial Park was very emotional and moving. It also inspired me to work towards setting up a similar peace museum in Nepal.
Editor and Publisher,Nepali Times
|Mr. Dixit is a graduate of Columbia University and started his career in journalism with BBC Radio in New York. He later served as Asia Pacific Editor of Inter Press Service and established Panos South Asia. He is now the editor and publisher of the Nepali Times in Kathmandu. He is the author of Dateline Earth: Journalism As If the Planet Mattered and a trilogy of books on the Nepal conflict.|