Bishnu Maya Pariyar M.A./IDSC ’07, felt instantly welcomed at Clark University.
The easy acceptance she found on campus was a stark contrast to her youth in Nepal. Born into a Dalit family — Dalit is the lowest caste in her culture — Pariyar was tormented as a child and was regarded as untouchable.
“Being a Dalit girl, I experienced discrimination every day and every moment. I did not feel like I was a human being,” recalls Pariyar. “When I was small, people wanted to put me down. There were a lot of situations where other people wanted me to quit.”
Ultimately, Pariyar’s story is one of triumph. She overcame the challenges of her childhood and has dedicated her life’s work to social justice, particularly helping marginalized people in Nepal. As a social worker, she has also been a case manager for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
“That’s why I wanted to do something for the most vulnerable people. I faced so much discrimination, obstacles, and challenges, but took it as an opportunity to fight,” says Pariyar.
Pariyar is the founding president of the Association for Dalit Women’s Advancement of Nepal (ADWAN). The organization works to address root causes of gender- and caste-based discrimination and empower Dalit women through educational, income-generating, and advocacy programs. Since 1998, ADWAN has helped more than 50,000 Dalit and marginalized women and their family members.
Pariyar says her Clark education encouraged her to broaden her horizons. She refined her writing, learned how to raise money for a cause, and had an opportunity to collaborate with peers. The skills she honed at Clark strengthened her work at ADWAN.
“If I did not go to Clark, I would not be doing everything I’m doing now,” says Pariyar.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ADWAN has provided care packages with masks, medicine, and groceries to disadvantaged people in Nepal. The organization has supported more than 3,500 families through that effort, says Pariyar.
Pariyar has an essay featured in the newly published anthology “The Writer’s Mindset: A Rhetorical Gide to Reading, Writing, and Arguing.” In “Peace Corps’ Influence Changed My Fate” she documents her struggles from being born Dalit to becoming the first girl from her community to graduate from high school.
Pariyar encourages others to never give up on their goals.
“You have to be strong and persevere,” she says. “No matter what kind of challenges you face, don’t let anything stop you from becoming what you want to be.”