Ayusha Bajyoo and Diskshyanta Lama were both born in Kathmandu, Nepal. The life journeys led them to attend BYU-Hawaii for Fall Semester.
Both Bajyoo and Lama, undecided majors, said both of their fathers’ dreams of providing them with quality education in the United States has been the enabling power in getting their high school education and attending BYUH.
They said when their fathers first went to the United States, they envisioned their children would come get an education. They hoped to provide their children with a good education in order to serve people in Nepal.
After completing tenth grade, they moved to Utah, where their fathers had made connections beforehand. Both of them said they had no idea about Mormons before coming to the United States, even though they knew about Christianity.
Lama said they had no idea if there were any Mormons in Nepal until they moved to Utah and saw some parts of Nepal from the movie “Meet the Mormons.”
The Nepalese students said they could not go to public school because going to public school would only entitle them to a one-year visa, so they chose to go to American Heritage High School, which turned out to be a Mormon private school.
Two or three days after starting school, they went to one family’s house. There they faced Mormon culture shock.
They said they remembered the host dad drawing, what they described to be a “long description” about Heavenly Father and the Plan of Salvation.
Lama said, “We didn’t know the school we were going to would use the gospel in everything and how much the gospel would be tied into academic and everything in our life in Utah.”
Bajyoo said, “After joining the high school, we found out why we needed to study those things that the host dad explained to us. The first thing we had to read in our first class was the Living Christ.”
They admit they were shy for the first time because of the culture differences and also the sense of isolation they felt since they were not Mormon.
They said they were encouraged to go to church and they did a few times, but for the first year it was difficult to adjust to the Utah culture. Lama said, “We were not used to [going] to church. We didn’t make much friends that first year because everyone was a Mormon and we felt like everyone hangs out with Mormons.”
After the second year when they came back from Nepal, they started living in different homes separately, which exposed them to life in Utah more than before.
They started going to church out of respect for their host families. Both Bajyoo and Lama even attended the church in Nepal when they went back home.
Lama said the aspect she likes about Mormonism is the emphasis they put on the family. She also said most of their generations are not religious in Nepal. She said they rarely talk about religion and she likes the LDS teachings of being honest and becoming a better person.
Bajyoo said she liked family home evening and how it helps the family to have a stronger connection.
Bajyoo said she felt kindness from people in Utah. However, she thought there were some days when some Mormons seemed disappointed in her when she didn’t go to church.
Lama added, “Even though there isn’t a direct pressure, there were some days when I felt pressured and kind of left out.”
People in Utah told Lama and Bajyoo about BYUH. They said it is a good school because it is international and Mormon.
Bajyoo said since they do not have
any support from their parents, she thought going to BYUH would be the best choice because of the scholarship, which reduces tuition.
Lama said starting off with a small college similar to their small high school would be a good choice.
Bajyoo said she’d like to get a quality education, make good connections, and go back and serve her community and country.
The two friends said they hope to make new connections with other students and even try out new activities around the island.
Besides the friendliness she notices from people in Hawaii, Bajyoo said she likes the beach, mountains, and culture. “I don’t think I will try surfing at all,” she said with a laugh.
They said they cannot swim, but they are hikers. Lama said she enjoys hiking, even though she said she feels she is not good at it. The climate along with the presence of chickens wandering around Laie is similar to Nepal, they said, making them feel at home even though they are far away from their homeland.
One of the biggest things the two students said they miss about Nepal is that there are lots of hills and mountains. Bajyoo said, “People always think Mount Everest is in our backyard or something, but it’s not. It’s far away!”
Due to their experience of attending a private school in Utah and learning so much from being surrounded by the Mormon culture, they hope to gain the same experience at BYUH.
Lama said, “That’s why we came here.”