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Graduate Students Promote Conflict Resolution in Nepal

Lisha Shrestha and Surya Raj Joshi, Nepalese students determined to help their country put together the pieces after suffering through a ten-year Nepalese Civil War, are using their education at Portland State to help promote global tolerance.

After witnessing the tragedies of political and social conflict, Lisha and Surya began to research the issues of conflict, human security, and displacement; in 2010, they established a project that taught the women of the poverty-stricken Rolpa District in Nepal to use native plants for fibers and fabrics that the women could then sell as local goods. 


Lisha’s and Surya’s advocacy for social transformation continued when they were accepted into PSU’s unique Conflict Resolution Master’s program. Together, the two are working on their thesis project, The Intergroup Dialogue Project in Post-Conflict Societies. The project is a tribute to the dialogue and conflict resolution skills they’ve acquired while at PSU.


Prior to coming into the program, Surya and Lisha, now graduate assistants, both thought of conflict from a global perspective—how countries handle economic, social, and political differences. However, at PSU, they’ve learned that conflict resolution starts with the interpersonal skills of empathy, tolerance, and negotiation.


“I learned conflict from a deeper, personal level and that conflict resolution starts from the self,” says Lisha.  Through his classes, Surya shares that he now understands “the importance of speaking and speaking out. I want to bring that back to Nepal. I want to share the skills of intergroup dialogue and help people constructively and collaboratively resolve problems.”


Together, the two will continue to work on their Intergroup Dialogue project with the intention of creating curriculum and holding classes and trainings with local institutions, Rotary International members, community groups, and politicians back in Nepal. Already, Lisha organized a three-day negotiation and mediation workshop with Master’s students at Katmandu University in Nepal: “I want to work with the people. I want to change their lives with whatever small contribution I can make.” 




To learn about how you can make a difference to students like Surya and Lisha by supporting the Conflict Resolution program, please contact Paul Mortimer, Assistant Dean for External Relations, at 503-725-9894 or


Story written by Chelsea Pfund, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences