Sudip Bhandari, winner of Outstanding Educator Award
When Sudip Bhandari read a BBC article about how groups of youth in India are idolizing Hitler as a patriotic and nationalist leader, his thoughts turned to his native Nepal.
High school textbooks in many regions of the country only vaguely mention World War II, and any reference to the Holocaust or figures such as Anne Frank are left out completely. “Many youths in Nepal are frustrated with old leadership and are looking for a stern leader — someone like Adolf Hitler,” he says. “I thought it was necessary to teach them about the Holocaust and the lessons that can be drawn from it.”
So he set about making his vision a reality.
With the support of an Entrepreneurial Grant from the St. Olaf Center for Experiential Learning and donations of books and other reading materials from the Anne Frank Center in New York, Sudip spent four and a half weeks of his summer vacation traveling throughout Nepal and educating local youth about the Holocaust.
The program he developed was created with the goal of educating and inspiring students living in a country dealing with changing social and political norms.
He decided to teach about events of the Holocaust that are overlooked in Nepal, with an emphasis on positive leaders like Anne Frank. Four college students studying in the U.S. — including fellow St. Olaf student Stuti Thapa — as well as St. Olaf alumnus Subhash Ghimire and one doctor accompanied Bhandari to schools in three Nepalese cities, reaching out to more than 2,300 students. Sudip had known all of the volunteers prior to the program, and asked them to help him achieve his goal.
The volunteers delivered a short PowerPoint presentation geared toward the high school students, followed by a documentary video detailing the life of Anne Frank. Finally, the third section of the project a discussion with students. “We discussed with the students about how they felt after learning about the topics we covered and what lessons we could draw from these events and people,” Sudip.
The Anne Frank Center in New York recently selected Sudip Bhandari as 2012’s recipient of its Outstanding Educator Award. He was given the award for his work in Nepal. The award comes with $1,000 that Bhandari will use to establish the peace library.
In addition to the honor he received from the Anne Frank Center, Sudip was also recently selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University, an annual meeting designed to engage young leaders around the world. In addition to sharing the plans for his peace library and connecting with fellow student leaders, he was one of a small group of students who had the opportunity to have lunch with former President Bill Clinton.