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The Value in Living a Life of Good Intentions
 



 

 
 

 

Kiran taking a selfie in front of the United Nations, 2018

                                                                                                                        

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Kiran Gc

by Tenzin Norzin
Feb 11, 2019

Kiran Gc is a chef. He's worked over five years at Stony Brook's very own Curry Kitchen, the Indian corner inside Wang Center's Jasmine food court. He is also a human rights advocate--last summer, he attended the 15th Annual International Human Rights Summit at the United Nations Headquarters. I met with him to speak about how this experience had been a transformative one for him.


Please introduce yourself.

Hi, I am Kiran. I am from Nepal; we have Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, and the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Right now, I am a chef at Curry Kitchen, which serves authentic Indian cuisine. And I am also an Executive Director for Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) at Stony Brook--through that, I am committed to educating and making people aware about human rights.

Can you tell me a little bit about YHRI, this program that you're involved in?

Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is the youth component of United for Human Rights (UHR), a global nonprofit organization. Founded in 2001, YHRI has the purpose to teach youth about human rights, specifically to teach them about the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also to inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.

Why do you think the topic of human rights is important? Why are you working to shed awareness on it?

It was found that most people surveyed can't even remember more than three of their human rights. If you go and ask people what they know about human rights, like really ask them questions, most people can only say a couple. But there are so many more than just one, two, or even three. And because of this, they started educational programs to let people know about human rights. . .

Right, it's important to stay informed.

. . .Yes! Because if you don't know about that, then you can't protect your own human rights. How can you defend yourself otherwise? You can't. It's hard to protect your rights if you don't know them. And it can be hard even when you know them. But global implementation of human rights requires widespread human rights education. That's why, like I was saying before, YHRI and UHR carry out these programs. They made them for people to be made aware and made them simple so everyone can read and learn the curriculum. They even have videos for all the human rights. It's called "30 rights, 30 ads." And they have translated all about human rights into 27 different languages.

So the program helps make that knowledge accessible?

Exactly.

Were you always aware of this issue? How did you come to get involved in the program?

Before, I knew about and had interest in human rights and human rights issues but I was not so active. I happened to hear about the conference and decided to go because I've always found social service and social work, that kind of stuff, to be really good. And this event, the conference at the UN, was so impressive. Going to it gave me a boost--that I cannot be passive, that I have to be active. That even if I can tell one person or hand one booklet over to one person, that would be a great achievement.

Tell me about the conference. What about it impressed you?

They had the conference in the UN headquarters. It's an annual international human rights conference. Last summer was the 15th annual summit and I had the opportunity to go and participate. There were from all over the world, human rights activists--youth ambassadors who were given the chance, the voice, to tell the world what problems they are facing, what challenges they have overcome. All these different people telling their story, telling their success, and telling their struggle. That impressed me. Hearing the stories connected everyone's heart. It was so simplified, like easy to understand, and everyone spoke from the heart. Listening to them and what work they have been doing was so inspirational. . .

It seems like you found the conference really meaningful.

. . .Yes, all these activists from all around the globe played a key role in bringing the reality of human rights into their communities; their struggle, their obstacle, and finally their success was such an inspiration. And also, the program success rate was impressive. It works; they reach more than 100 million people each year.

You go to this conference and find it really amazing. Why decide to get involved however? And why bring it to Stony Brook?

We are safe. Our human rights are not abused. If you hear real stories, it's devastating. People have been killed, they have been raped. Not only for the developing countries but also for the powerful and developed countries, people still face abuses. That's important to know about. I've been at Stony Brook for a while now and saw a lot of different clubs, so many different ones. But I didn't see any clubs about human rights. So, I wanted to do something about that and then I said Why don't we do it? Everyone knows it is a sensitive and important topic but no one was doing anything about it on campus.

What actions did you take after you decided to start this initiative on campus?

Last semester, we did some events with some clubs like Model UN, Community Service Club, and AA E-Zine too. (laughter) Those were just introductions to the program and to the issue of knowing your rights. Everybody likes those events so I want to do more. We are planning some more events this semester like some same introductional events but also some big seminars. That is still in planning so let's see.

What is your goal for the program?

For the 16th annual international conference, I want someone to represent from Stony Brook. That's my target. If we can produce someone who would rep Stony Brook then, that would be great. But it's hard because it's not just going to listen--you have to have done some activism before to qualify. And my other wish is for students to get involved in this program. My basis is that students can make other people aware. Human rights are the basis of all human race. We need them, human rights, and so we need to make it aware to all people. And then we will protect our human rights if we know. The world will be a better place to live when we can raise our voices.

Not to be pessimistic. . . but do you think that is possible?

(laughter) I think individual can do a lot, but if everyone is united then that will be a force. It's more effective as an organization, as a group to be united. And only then can overcome challenges. Still we have so many challenges, so many human rights abuses around the world. It's a sign that not enough as been done. But for me, the base, the first thing is that people need to be made aware. Then everyone's voices will be higher together. Then the world has to hear our voices. 

I love that. Just like you were inspired by the conference, someone reading this might become interested in participating. In that case, how should they contact you? What do you want to say to them?

To contact me for information, for tabling at events, or for some booklet distribution, people can email me at kirangc@hotmail.com. And they can go to www.youthforhumanrights.org for more information. My dream is that some human rights event would happen on Stony Brook, that students will be the ones to do these activities. For me, I just want to be a help and want students to get involved in this issue. I would be so happy if there would be a human rights club on campus later on. 


During my conversation with Kiran, I was struck not only by his sincerity but by his energy. Many people have causes they support but--with obligations like work or school keeping us busy--it can be difficult to follow through. Sometimes we simply don't have the mental capacity for good intentions. Keeping track of life is hard enough: things like where your keys are, what you're going to eat for dinner, and how you're possibly going to finish everything on your to-do list.

But speaking to Kiran made me reconsider this approach. Good intentions and "life" don't have to be separate. If we also consider "telling one person or handing over one booklet to be a great achievement" (to paraphrase Kiran), then it becomes easier to make good intentions a part of our lives. Kiran is right to say that we cannot be passive. We have to be active. Only then, can we be aware, be conscious, and be thoughtful.

   
   
   
   
 


 

 
 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
   
   

 

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