When I was doing my MSc in Botany (majoring in Ecology) at Tribhuvan University, Biratnagar, there was a small unit called “Modern Ecological Tools and Techniques”, with a sub-unit called “GIS and Remote Sensing”. During that period there was no faculty available in my college to conduct that course, but my teacher explained that GIS and remote sensing were powerful tools for ecological studies and he gave me short articles about their use. I studied them carefully because in the final board examination a question on this subject, worth about 5 marks, was more or less certain to be set by that unit.
A little later, Mr Milan Dahal, a botanist at Nepal Electric Authority, came to our college and gave a two-day demonstration on GIS, showing us how to explore ArcView GIS software and how GPS worked. This was the first time I realized how powerful GIS was. Being a student of Ecology, I used to work as a programme officer for the Association for Protection of Environment and Culture (APEC), an NGO in Biratnagar. One day Mr Pradeep Banskota, the general secretary, showed me an annual newsletter and application form for GFM4 at ITC (some of the staff had already studied at ITC). He asked whether I was interested in the course and, being very curious about that field and recently exposed to it, I said I was. We filled in the form and sent it off to ITC. After a while, I received an admission letter from ITC, but it was not final. The main difficulty was to get an NFP fellowship, a highly competitive procedure. I needed to take an English language test (TOEFL), which was difficult to combine with my MSc first-year final exam. After much effort, I was able to have my exam board shifted from Biratnagar to Kathmandu, and there I studied for the TOEFL test, achieving satisfactory results for the ITC course, and also passed the MSc first-year final exam. After a while, I received an e-mail from SNV Nepal, saying I had been awarded an NFP fellowship. And so, interrupting my MSc study, I went to ITC, the Netherlands, for the GFM course.