How One Expat Girl Can Change The World For So Many Others
Tsewang in Nepal
“I want to empower other girls,” Tsewang said.
She was a young teen, a football player, born in a tiny Nepali village with no access to school, electricity, running water, phones, or healthcare. Yet there she stood, dressed in a hoodie and sport pants, speaking to a group of affluent expat moms from all over the world, in Zumikon, Switzerland. We were attending an international baccalaureate school luncheon.
Tsewang in Zurich
Tsewang captivated the audience as she spoke of her love for sports, and her desire to excel so that she could continue to “give back.” She described her uncle who decided that he would help her pursue her dreams by paying for her to attend a small boarding school in Kathmandu called Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School.
“My parents thought it was strange,” she said of her love for sports and learning. “Especially since I’m a girl.” But at her school in Kathmandu, a four day walk and one day bus ride from her remote village of Ripchet, Tsewang again defied the odds — she was selected to represent the Tibetan national football team in a championship against India and Canada. Boarding the plane for the tournament, she gazed out the window of the first plane she’d ever boarded and watched her country disappear into the clouds.
But still, there was more excitement ahead for Tsewang. That same month, while touring with the soccer team, she learned that she was chosen to receive a scholarship for an upper school IB education at the International Community School in Zumikon, Switzerland. Ecstatic for the opportunity, Tsewang again packed her bags, left friends, family, and everything familiar, and journeyed alone to study at ICS, make new friends, integrate into a new host family, and play football.
In Switzerland, Tsewang has developed extremely close ties to her host family whose mother described Tsewang, while suppressing tears, as an “incredible and unexpected blessing.” While in Switzerland, Tsewang has worked relentlessly as a football coach, dedicated her time to her studies, and has educated other kids and mothers like me about female empowerment, defying enormous odds, and the invaluable gift of education.
But Tsewang isn’t finished. She has more hurdles to climb. Recently she was accepted to study sports management at Amsterdam University of Applied Science; however she needs funding to attend. At University, she plans to prepare herself for more work that will empower other girls, all over the world, through sport involvement.
Tsewang’s story changed a part of me, and so I relish the opportunity to share it with others. She has revealed a glimpse of the kind of courage I rarely get to see. And she’s demonstrated a tangible way to improve the future for not just one girl, but for the millions of other girls, without access to school or sports, who need a role model like Tsewang.
Article by Amy Aves Challenger.
Amy Aves Challenger is an American expat and writer of essays, poetry, and and a novel forthcoming. She leads creative writing workshops in Zurich. Visit Amy’s website here.
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