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Resident Spotlight: Ritu Thapa (Nepal)

Meet Advritu “Ritu” Thapa from Nepal, a lawyer and activist who joined the I-House community for the Spring 2022 semester while she attends the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) of the Institute of the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. She is a founding member and the treasurer of the Indigenous Women Legal Awareness Group (INWOLAG), an organization that provides free legal aid to Indigenous and other marginalized groups.

Ritu earned her law degree from the University of Pune, India, and is the first LL.M. from her indigenous community. In Nepal, she worked with the Legal Aid and Consultancy Center (LACC) and was part of a campaign team that succeeded in pressuring the government of Nepal to enact equal property rights for women.

In her current position, she is advocating on behalf of the indigenous community in Tanahu, Nepal, which is being impacted by a hydropower project that started in 2016. For generations, the land on which the project is being built has been the foundation of the community’s culture and livelihood. Ritu’s focus is on ensuring that the members of the community are aware of their rights in the face of this development, and that the appropriate measures to protect these community members and their rights are implemented as the country moves toward sustainability.

In addition to sharing about her work, we asked Ritu about her experience at I-House, where she spends her down time.

What made you decide to live at International House?
I came to know International House through our HRAP Program Director, who sent me the link for a virtual tour. One of our Senior Lawyers from Nepal had also stayed here during his Fulbright program course at Columbia University. He also told me how he enjoyed student life, with study and fun in I-House. I was so thrilled to join I-House.

Do you think your experience living at I-House will help you accomplish your goals?
Networking is one of my goals during my stay in I-House, and it has given me opportunities to interact with people from different countries, cultures, and areas of work. It has been a wonderful experience to share experiences and learn with the other residents. I believe that I-House has given us a platform to learn academically and professionally, where we could share our experience and ideas through a network.

What is your favorite spot at I-House?
My favorite spot is in the Dining Hall, where I can enjoy varieties of food, make friends, and get the opportunity to interact and learn with residents from different countries.

Thank you, Ritu! We are so glad to have you as part of our community!