. . . So, perhaps the biggest realization one would get after PhD is of being scrutinized in terms of performance and potentials. This is good. Majority of the PhDs can claim confidence and authority in what they plan to do ahead. You can execute certain things because you can, and because people are very likely to accept and appreciate the results of your works. You try to ensure performing a very educated person because you are aware of people’s expectations of certain demeanor and certain style from you. This brings to you a feeling of sudden social elevation. And this brings to you the burden of visibility, which you like to claim if not given.
A PhD, unlike Moti Nissani assumes some to be ‘horribly insecure,’ should feel more secure than the average educated people.
PhD equals productivity. It requires you to show confidence and readiness to solve problems underlying your discipline. You are expected to collaborate with your colleagues in this process. You appreciate others’ efforts and get yours appreciated and used. The best aspect of PhD scholarship is that someone takes your product to the classroom, or to a discourse community. You continue the practice by taking someone’s work further. Besides, you judge your potential to travel to other fields so that fields co-exist and cross-pollinate. You mentor someone from a proximate discipline and get mentored in a process. You educate others and be educated in the process. PhDs, thus, can help break disciplinary insularities, and blur pedantic barriers.
I am personally seeking avenues of growth within and without discipline(s) of humanities. My colleagues are working in identical fields, where I can give substantive inputs. For example, one of them is studying the rhetoric of patient-doctor communication in Nepal. I am useful in this subject because rhetoric is my fresh expertise. Another of my colleague is working on post-insurgency writings from the perspective of trauma representation. Though trauma is not my subject of great understanding, the context and texts are proximate to my orientation. So, we can talk and share, and collaborate in the future. We will surely do this once they are through with their projects.
I am drawing my MA and M Phil works further to revisit their worth now. I, in fact, worked extensively on and have reasonable comfort in the discourses of natural man, surrealism, ‘sexually frank’ literature, media sustainability, diaspora studies, identity politics and virtual societies. PhD gave exposure to rhetorical studies, qualitative research, performance studies, functional English grammar, editorial analysis, and movement studies among a few other known areas. Now is the time to seek the relevance of these discourses, and intervene where Humanities benefits.
The association with Management, Law, Science and Engineering, the areas where Humanities is generally considered absent, provides me a veritable ground for practicing rhetoric and professionalism. I am teaching performativity, aesthetics and creativity wherever possible, even in the basics of technical communication. This is what scholars elsewhere do to transfer the worthy aspects of their expertise to learners of other disciplines. It is working with me perfectly in helping undergraduates and graduates to redefine their personalities as well as their humane orientations. I believe I am helping them to grow into better human beings and better professionals with this early humanistic training.
When I started PhD in Nepal, somewhere in my heart and mind I concealed a qualm that I should have landed in a ‘greener pasture’ elsewhere. I should not have dumped the GRE book after going half-way through it. I thought I would end up with a mediocre product, or at least be called a mediocre PhD with a native degree. I would be compared with greener pasture returnees and looked down upon in my own workplace.
This thought was occasionally triggered by gossips of some of my colleagues who thought in the same line, or those earlier returnees who often painted utopian pictures of foreign universities. But there were things that kept me loyal to my decision, especially the awareness that I had and could have (access to) resources and excellent guidance. My only challenge would be to train myself to the level I could prove for years I was not turned into a mere degree-bearing dunce, but deserved to be considered a scholar. Like many people of my ‘type’, I should continue to work and dispel the stigma that one who studies inside the country does not know or achieve as much as those who do elsewhere.
By ‘type’ I mean the group of youngsters who help one another to upgrade ‘beyond the ritual’ so that in the long-run we could help rescue our academia from the native orthodoxy of political gangsterism and exclusionary tactics. The youngsters are working from everywhere, no matter whether they have graduated here or elsewhere. May the desire to isolate from the commonplace not evaporate in the labyrinth of personal, domestic and political detractors that are rampant everywhere. I would again love to invite my generation that grazes in the greens of other continents to continue to look towards their native land and keep interfering with productive inputs.
When asked what I have achieved so far with my seemingly localist attitude, I very often admit ‘satisfaction’. I have cherished enough perseverance for critical reflections. Perhaps, I experience the little halo of understanding and wisdom around me. Sorry, if it sounds hyperbolic. But, you will have your own moments of enlightenment if you stop being cynical about your surroundings, and decisively quit regretting for not achieving what you could not. The world looks friendlier and enriching to me despite the fact of being materially and politically challenged in these oddest moments in the country.
I feel I am felt more as someone than a non-entity. I am teaching and mentoring better, and thinking and writing more clearly. I am collecting and singing more songs. I am composing more poems and using them in my classes more frequently than ever before. I am sparing time to gossip, laugh and rejoice with my family, friends, students and strangers. My engagement in the study detached me from so many good things. I am getting back to them, to feel them once again and for life.
In fact, the boundaries between specialization and specialties are not really distinct for me. I am happy to crisscross them every day.