Talking with Nimesh Ghimire, TEDxKathmandu organizer

Kathmandu, Nepal by Javi Leon

Nimesh Ghimire is the organizer of TEDxKathmandu, the first TEDx event in Nepal, which just held its second event last month. Here are his thoughts on the TEDx movement, the importance of TEDx in Nepal and TEDxKathmandu’s impact on its community.

TEDx: How did you hear about TEDx? What made you want to organize a TEDx event?

Nimesh: I have always been a big fan of TED videos and its ethos of ideas worth spreading. In fact, I have derived a lot of inspiration and motivation on the works I have done (the projects I am involved with) by watching TED videos. At the same time, I was aware that TED allowed local events to be self-organized by members of the TED community. Knowing that Nepal had never seen a TEDx event, and with my own motivation to share the TED inspiration with members of the Nepali community, I collaborated with a friend to host TEDxKathmandu, beginning in 2011. So far, our team has hosted two TEDx events in Nepal.

TEDx: On your website, you say, “We hope that TEDxKathmandu will be a platform to share optimism, hope and positive ideas among our audience.” Do you think TEDxKathmandu succeeded at this? How did you work to meet these goals?

Nimesh:When we decided to host TEDxKathmandu, it was important for us, as a team, to understand the ‘why’ and be bound by a shared story. Why host TEDx in Nepal? What is the value add — what are we doing that has not already been done in Nepal before?  We realized that there is a growing need to create platforms for Nepal’s innovators, artists, entrepreneurs and creative minds to share new and interesting ideas and allow them to explore avenues for collaboration. To meet these goals we set for TEDxKathmandu, we worked hard to create a very diverse set of interesting speakers who believed in the power of ideas. At the same time, knowing that a vibrant audience is critical to ensuring the success of our event, we were very careful to ensure diversity even within our attendees. Our belief is that bringing these interesting minds (with a diverse set of beliefs, experiences, insights and interests) together fostered innovation (people sharing their unique ideas and insights with others) and spread hope and optimism (people hearing (and talking) about their cool projects/ideas/realizing they are not alone.) 

We also find this idea of dedicating a day to ‘ideas worth spreading’ very powerful, engaging and inspiring.

Ani Choyang Dolma at TEDxKathmandu by Runil

TEDx: What do you think TEDxKathmandu brought to the Kathmandu community, and Nepal at large? Why have TEDx events here?

The reason Kathmandu needs a TEDx event is simple: with our absolute obsession with politics, most discussion that could otherwise have been very useful are always somehow embroiled with politics. At the same time, news about Nepal’s political crisis almost always dominates the national media. It is impossible to talk about bringing an educational reform without bringing the issue of political interference in the sector; when discussing about the development of contemporary Nepali music, it has to invariable be expressed in terms of current political scenario. While open political discourse is essential for a vibrant democracy, it’s time we moved beyond that and talked about ideas and to those making actual change.

We wanted TEDxKathmandu to be a platform (at the national level) to share interesting ideas and inspiration and the event to act as a platform for collaboration between people doing interesting things  our vision (which I believe we have been able to realize through the two TEDx events we hosted) is to act as a platform to share optimism, hope and (positive) powerful ideas with our participants, amid news of crisis and pessimism dominating the national discourse.

TEDx: What was the most memorable moment of TEDxKathmandu? What is something you won’t forget?

Nimesh: TEDxKathmandu this year was run entirely by a group of five 21 year olds — generally (and not just in Nepal but everywhere) we tend to underestimate the capacity, confidence and power of young people in helping put together something as powerful and inspirational as a TEDx event. The passion, dedication, creativity and ability our young team demonstrated during the course of organizing TEDxKathmandu (which grabbed a lot of attention even at the national stage with coverage from almost all leading national media) remains the most memorable moment and a very humbling experience for me.

TEDx: When you were organizing TEDxKathmandu, what is the number one thing you wanted the audience to take away from the day? What did you learn from the event?

Nimesh: Our hope was that the audience did not leave just inspired, but with the motivation and commitment to take whatever (big or small) initiatives they have been involved with to its next level of impact.

In short, through the power of ideas, inspiration and optimism shared at TEDxKathmandu, we wanted our audience to be not just dreamers, but doers in their own communities.

…Our theme this year was “Nepal 2030: Innovation, Change and Sustainability” and we wanted our audience at TEDxKathmandu to think and discuss about what Nepal could and should look like in ~15 years time, and understand each of our roles to achieve that vision for Nepal. 

I have been directly involved with hosting three TEDx events so far (two TEDxKathmandu events and one TEDxSwarthmore) — all of which has been a tremendous learning experience. The massive response we received from Nepali community to be a part of TEDxKathmandu both in 2011 and this year has made me realize the value and importance of hosting events dedicated to ideas worth spreading, particularly in developing countries like Nepal. 

I have also realized that dedicating a day to share and exchange powerful ideas really instills confidence and hope among the participants and motivates them to be agents of positive change in their communities. One small anecdote: a TEDxKathmandu attendee posted the following on Facebook: “I was so bored and frustrated and was counting my days to return to the US, but now I realize the numerous possibilities in Nepal…there are so many things we can do here right now.” Comments like these really motivates us (as members of the organizing team) and we can’t wait to host TEDxKathmandu in 2013!

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