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.
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
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?
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?
Were you always aware of this issue? How did you come to get involved in
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?
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?
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
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?
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?
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.
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?
contact me for information, for tabling at events, or for some booklet
distribution, people can email me at
And they can go to
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.