How Two Nepali Sisters have Built and Used Their Personal Networks by Participating in Technical Assistance Courses in Denmark and Japan
Technical Assistance courses have many functions apart from disseminating knowledge and information, one such function is to engender networks. During the course period, participants meet and establish contact and some of these contacts remain connections between alumni for many years after the courses are finished. The alumni networks depend on the uses they are put to by the individual alumni and the support they get from alumni and host countries. The United Nations initiated technical assistance courses in the late 1940s in order to train nationals from developing countries as a means to prepare public civil servants from the whole membership to function as international staff at the United Nations. The Colombo Plan as well as private foundations such as the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and from the early 1960s also many bilateral foreign aid programs have financed overseas fellow- and scholarships. The paper explores the impact of technical assistance courses on the lives of two Nepali sisters and their communities. Both sisters have attended overseas courses financed by Japanese Official Development Assistance and the younger sister also attended a dairy course in Aarhus, Denmark, as a Danida fellow. Today, the older sister works in Nepal and the younger in Seattle, where they still make use of their personal networks including connections to their fellow alumni of technical assistance courses. Inspired by work on social remittances in combination with network theory , I argue that their personal networks engage not only their families, but also their home communities and by extension Nepal. The two women constitute weak links between their country and other countries and as such they function as bridges or channels for transmission of practices, ideas, knowledge, and artefacts. However, because practices, ideas, knowledge, and the uses of artefacts are dynamic, the weak links such as the two sisters play a key role in interpreting, reinventing, transforming, developing, and applying practices, ideas, knowledge, and artefacts in a Nepali context. They have also inspired changes in the countries’ they have visited, including the countries that financed their overseas training and fellowships. The ethnographies of the two sisters illustrate not only a family strategy of overseas education and training, but also how various foreign aid programs often conceived as national donor endeavors interact and interconnect in the countries where the donors operate.
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Unpacking the Concepts of 'Stability', 'Democracy' and 'Rights': Conceptual Investigations., 2012