WIU international graduate combines cultures to achieve success

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) – International student enrollment at Western Illinois University is at an all-time high this semester. One of those students from last year’s graduating class said he came to WIU to “improve the livelihood of human people.”

Bishnu Neupane graduated from WIU in December 2020 with a master’s degree in chemistry, and is now enrolled in the University of Iowa’s doctoral program. Before studying in the U.S., he taught chemistry in his home country of Nepal for 7 years, where he felt he had more to learn.

“When I was teaching, I felt, ‘This is not the only knowledge I [want to] have,” Neupane said. “I have to expand my knowledge.”

Neupane, now 38, earned his first master’s degree from Tribhuvan University in 2007 and taught at Pokhara University until 2019. Some of Neupane’s friends then recommended WIU for continuing his studies. Here, he said he learned to blend two cultures together.

“It’s very important…to have our culture here in the U.S.A. because that helps us to keep bonding with our relatives back in Nepal,” Neupane said. “Many people in America are interested to learn the culture and religion from my country also.”

Neupane said his family is happy for him to be able to study in the U.S., but that it’s been difficult not getting to see them because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said overcoming the language and cultural barriers here is tough, but with the help of his “American family,” he is able to assimilate.

“We learn with them, the American family,” Neupane said. “I am gradually being [in] a family with an American culture.”

As an international student, Neupane said he has a global view when it comes to his contributions to science. While he loves his home and culture in Nepal, he said he wants his research in illness treatment to come full scale.

“It’s very important for me to be a successful researcher…that is going to [have a] benefit all around the world,” Neupane said. “I don’t want to focus only in Nepal. I want to focus globally because science is universal.”

Neupane’s current research is on the Nepalese ‘mad honey’ phenomenon, which is known by locals there for its medicinal properties.

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