East Stroudsburg University Professor’s Children’s Book Funding Nepalese Girl’s Education
“Nepal Adventure,” by Beth Rajan Sockman, Ph.D., an ESU associate professor of media communications and technology, was published this year and tells of a little girl in Pokhara, Nepal who searches for adventure. Dr. Sockman wrote the story using photos from a trip in 2008. Photo: Sockman reads a book to the girl who inspired the story as Sockman’s son listens.
An East Stroudsburg University professor’s chance meeting with a little girl in Nepal inspired her to write a children’s book that will help enable the girl to get a good education.
“Nepal Adventure,” by Beth Rajan Sockman, Ph.D., was published this year and is available on Amazon.com. It tells of a little girl in Pokhara, Nepal who searches for adventure. Dr. Sockman, an associate professor of media communication and technology, wrote the story using photos from a trip in 2009.
“I went over there and fell in love with the people,” Sockman said. “Everybody was really friendly.”
She spent about a month visiting orphanages and the non-profit Nepal House Society, which works with children who are recovering from trauma. Sockman also learned that the public schools in Nepal – which is one of the poorest countries in Asia – are chronically underfunded.
“In the country of Nepal, half the girls are literate compared to three quarters of the boys,” said Sockman, who taught elementary school in Stroudsburg for 10 years.
During the trip, Sockman and her 2-year-old son Jaz and sister-in-law Jill Sockman went to a street festival where Jaz played with a little Nepalese girl as Jill photographed them. When the Sockmans returned to the U.S., Dr. Sockman looked through the photos and began imagining the stories they could tell.
She got the idea for “Nepal Adventure” in which a little girl called “Nani” would take a boy called “Babu” on a search for adventures.
“We had so many of these images of this girl that we wanted to use,” Sockman said. “But we needed to get her parents’ permission. First of all we had to find the girl.”
She sent a photo of the girl to a friend in Pokhara, Nepal, and he recognized her as the child of a man who sold tea from a cart.
Sockman’s friend told the girl’s parents that Sockman would pay for their daughter – whose real name is Urmila — to go to a private school if they would agree to let Sockman use the photos of her in a book. The parents were thrilled with the offer and gave permission.
For the last two years, Sockman and her husband have been paying Urmila’s tuition and expenses – which amounts to about $500 a year — at the Good Will School in Pokhara, where she is making progress.
Last year, Sockman went back to Nepal and read a draft of the book to Urmila and her parents. They loved it, as did the principal of Urmila’s school who asked for copies for his students.
“There aren’t many children’s books that reflect their own culture,” Sockman said. “They are seeing themselves reflected in a book for a change.”
Proceeds from the sale of the book go toward funding Urmila’s education. “My hope is that it inspires her,” Sockman said.