A team of Westcliff University students from our affiliate institute, King’s College Nepal, had an extraordinary expedition to the historic University of Oxford to be a part of the Map The System Global Finals. This global learning program and social innovation competition equips students to use systems thinking to tackle social and environmental challenges. Students spend several months diving deep into a social or environmental topic they are passionate about, creating visual system maps to articulate their findings so that people can understand, share, and learn.
United by their vision to address systemic issues within healthcare, the Westcliff student team included Prakriti Dhakal, Prakriti Joshi, Kamala Lama, and Bikash Dangal. The team’s project, titled “Inequitable Access to Infertility Care in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal,” aimed to expose and understand the disparities in accessing infertility care, an issue largely overlooked and under-represented in Nepal. Rigorously, they mapped systemic factors contributing to these disparities, highlighting socio-economic barriers, cultural stigmas, and inadequate healthcare infrastructures. The team was drawn to this project due to its emphasis on deep, thoughtful system-thinking analysis. It addressed an issue that had long been overshadowed and needed attention. Inspired by the potential for their research to enact real change, their findings revealed significant gaps in affordability, availability, and awareness. Through this project, the team not only engaged vital stakeholders but also presented potential realistic solutions.
Taking flight to Oxford marked a significant milestone in the team’s collective journey. Prakriti Dhakal, the team lead for communication and planning stated, “We see this step to be an exciting new chapter and an opportunity to represent both Westcliff University and King’s College Nepal with pride.” The venture to the esteemed University of Oxford symbolized not only personal achievement for each team member but also a chance to embody the values of both institutions on a global stage.
The team’s dedication and perseverance was rewarded as they were honored at Map The System Global Finals with the Excellent Award for Involvement of Underrepresented Community Voices. This award serves as a testament to the tireless efforts of the team to bring overlooked stories and perspectives to the forefront, striving for inclusivity and a more balanced narrative within the healthcare system of Nepal.
The partnership between King’s College Nepal and Westcliff University has been integral in shaping this remarkable accomplishment. The team undoubtedly embodied both institution’s values during their stay in Oxford and seized the opportunity to embrace new experiences, and broaden their horizons. As they embarked on this transformative expedition, the team fostered new global relationships and used networking opportunities to share and exchange ideas. Dhakal went on to talk about this subject further saying, “The partnership between King’s College and Westcliff University has unfolded as a true synergy. King’s offered the infrastructural support and localized context essential for our work, while Westcliff contributed significant financial backing. This collaboration has effectively bridged the geographical gap between the two institutions, fostering a unified and enriched learning environment.”
Today, the team is continuing this vital work back home in Nepal to help bring the solutions they have mapped out to reality and assure that the efforts do not end here. A sentiment that was shared by Dhaka, saying, “Coming from a developing country, opportunities like Map the System, which allow us to represent ourselves and our community on a global stage, are rare. This project was far more than an academic exercise for us; it was a cherished opportunity to amplify our community’s stories and advocate for meaningful change, a call to action that we passionately answered.”