Sherab Dorji, Class 2015
March 24, 2022
Sherab Dorji, Class 2015
Can you please briefly introduce yourself for those who do not remember you from their time at UWC Maastricht?
My name is Sherab Dorji, I am from the Kingdom of Bhutan and I studied at UWCM from 2013 to 2015. I am currently an undergraduate student at Brown university.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of UWC Maastricht?
A couple things. Being thrown into the moat on birthdays, cycling around the campus, MUN, celebrating Holi, culture weeks…
One thing that stands out is the International Peace Conference (IPC). I was one of the founding members of the IPC and worked with Mohannad from Palestine and Ido from Israel to make it happen. I was there from the beginning, it was beautiful to watch the synergies and the frictions between these two students and founders. It really was wonderful to see them work together despite all their cultural and religious differences. I recall I was the one responsible for arranging the venue for the Opening ceremony and I was very proud to secure the beautiful provincial house.
The IPC and everything around it was such an awesome experience and I learned so much. Most of all, it taught me that young people can play a role in making a difference. In terms of skills, I learned how to communicate and deal with people and how to work in a team. Looking back it is so amazing that a young group of people like us could organise something like this and bring the adults in because in the real world the adults are the ones who make decisions.
What is your most fond memory of your time at UWC Maastricht?
Knowing everyone on the floor and being able to hang out and have great conversations at the most odd hours! These talks ranged from metaphysical questions such as what is the meaning of life through social and political topics to general simple chat about life. We really talked about everything. I enjoyed talking about my country, culture, tradition and some of the economic issues we face as a small country. I remember I talked a lot with Mohannad, one of the IPC founders, and I always think back to him being such a religious and kind man who always had the best of his homeland in mind.
What have you been up to since graduating from UWC Maastricht?
After leaving Maastricht, I started at Brown university in 2015, studied for 2 years and then took a 3 years leave to build a dairy social enterprise back in Bhutan. And now I am back at Brown finishing my degree.
Your co-year Nelson nominated you to talk about living the UWC mission because of the impact that you have in your local community. Can you please tell us more about it?
Thanks to the insights and knowledge I gained as a UWC and Brown student, I was able to start a social venture that improves local livelihood in my community. I started a dairy social enterprise, and because dairy is a primarily women driven industry in my country, I was able to contribute towards women empowerment. Gender equality – in both social and economic spheres, is going to be key to sustainable and resilient societies in the future, and I was glad to be able to contribute. I had a lot of support from the government department for livestock as well as the local government in the area; it helped that they were very receptive to my ideas. The challenges were mostly financial and material. How do I get adequate funding to accomplish this many tasks? How and where do I source the equipment and expertise we need? How do we ensure an unbroken supply chain despite unpredictable natural calamities such as monsoon roadblocks and winter ice? It was an enriching learning experience.
Why did you choose to focus on the dairy industry?
I am from a farming community in Bhutan where farmers mainly grow potatoes as an export crop but also rear a few cattle to make ends meet. Since the incomes from potatoes fluctuate so much depending on market conditions and harvest conditions, I wanted to work with the farmers to develop their dairy productivity which is a more reliable, steadier source of income which can enable them to make future spending and investment plans. My goal was to help make the supply chain more efficient, help the farmers to earn better which would drastically improve the living standard of my community.
Would you have any advice for other alumni who are looking for ways to do more for their local communities, where should they start?
There are many ways to give back. You can directly go to address a need in a community that has a direct impact on the people there. You can become policy makers formulating sound policies that steer communities forward. You can be a successful career-person and inspire and motivate the youth back in your community to emulate your success and good works. And I say, if you have a great idea that is itching to be implemented, today is the best day to start. If it does not work out as intended, the world is a large place, and it is never too late to start something else.
And now you are back at Brown, right? Are you planning to go back to Bhutan?
Now I am indeed back at Brown to finish my studies in Environmental Science and Economics. It is common for people to start a (social) business and not return to their studies. I decided to return because it is important for me to complete my degree. I am lucky to be able to use the amazing resources here at Brown, to still learn more soft and hard skills, and network with people. I have one more year of studies ahead of me, I will graduate in December 2022. I am thinking of gaining some more professional experience in the US after completing my degree but the ultimate goal is to return to Bhutan and continue working with the social enterprise in the dairy industry.
Are there any other ways you think you are or you wish to be connected to UWC?
I would love to be a more involved part of the UWC community back in my community and explore ways to help students there access a UWC education. There is currently not a national committee in Bhutan, so that is something that I would like to contribute to starting.I would like to help spread information about UWC and its opportunities to students and parents in Bhutan so that they also know about, and have the option to opt for a UWC education.
Is there any first, second or co- year of yours who has been living the UWC mission and you would like to nominate them to be interviewed?
I can think of Ali Yazidi from Class 2014 who organised fundraising to help with the recent Afghan migrant tragedy 😊