Shreya KC attended her first environmental science class at university completely by chance.
KC knew little about the environment and had not heard much about climate change. At home and in high school, she had learned about minimising consumption, reducing waste and reusing.
“I could recite the definition and theory of all those terms, but I had no idea about the seriousness and urgency of the climate crisis,” recalls KC, now 23.
After graduating from high school, she considered taking up dentistry or microbiology, and enrolled in Bachelor in Science at Tribhuvan University, where she was assigned to the environment program.
It was only after she turned up for the first lecture in a small, dimly lit but packed room that she realised it was on the links between economic growth and nature conservation.
“In the introductory class, the professor told us that we would become environmentalists,” KC recalls. “He spoke about local communities impacted by climate change, and about the challenges he had faced as an activist himself. That was so inspiring.”
That first class was an experience that KC describes as finally waking up after long slumber.
Right after that very first day at university, she began to read up on environmental issues and started looking into organisations she could volunteer at. This eventually led her to the Nepalese Youth For Climate Action (NYCA) and its conference on climate change.
“Back then I didn’t have any social media account so I wrote to them from my sister’s Facebook,” says KC, who applied to participate along with a friend.
The organiser said there was no space, but KC refused to give up hope and called them up asking them to let her participate if someone dropped out, which turned out to be the case.
The conference opened up a whole new world for KC, and gave her exposure to ideas and opportunity to meet environmental experts and activists.
“The climate crisis was so vast and global in scale that I was nervous and did not know how one individual could make a difference,” she says. “But the people I met at the conference gave me hope. I also learned a lot from researchers, scholars and young activists like me.”
KC began to volunteer for the NYCA, of which she has since become the network coordinator. She also began teaching young children at a school nearby her home.