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Nuanced Understanding

Mihir Pyakuryal, at the National Gallery of Art.

Mihir Pyakuryal ’19  

It takes a certain bravery to relocate to a country you’ve never visited, and that’s just what Nepal native Mihir Pyakuryal ’19 did three years ago, as he embarked on his first year at Dickinson. From International Student Orientation to service trips abroad to his summer 2018 internship, he’s relished the chance to get to know people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. And as a psychology major, he’s dedicated to deeply understanding them. Here, he discusses a research project centering on how children develop notions of justice, why service trips can make students happier and more.

Hometown:

Kathmandu, Nepal.

Major:

Psychology, with a minor in film & media studies.

Clubs and organizations:  

Center for Service, Spirituality & Social Justice (Justice Served coordinator), Waidner-Spahr Library (student supervisor), WDCV, We Introduce Nations to Dickinson (WIND), Outing Club and club soccer.

Honors/scholarships/awards:

Alpha Lambda Delta, Psi Chi, John Montgomery Scholarship and 2018 Innovation Competition (second place).

Favorite place on campus:

Morgan Field in the summer.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Mac and cheese.

On choosing a major:  

I used to watch a lot of crime TV shows in which characters predicted others’ behavior. The idea of figuring out what someone else was thinking, or how someone was going to behave, was very fascinating to me. This drew me to psychology. After taking a few psychology classes in high school, I figured out that the fictionalized depiction of psychology is not an accurate representation, but I was still deeply interested in it.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a detective.

About my internship:

This summer I interned at the Social Minds Lab at University of Michigan. I worked in the lab, with graduate students on specific developmental psychology research projects, helping them in many areas, such as recruiting participants, designing the study, piloting the research and running the procedures as an experimenter.

It's an opportunity for me to work with and learn from highly skilled psychology researchers, which appealed to me. After interning for 10 weeks, I learned to recognize that conducting research requires passion, creativity, adaptability, patience and motivation. It has made me appreciate all of the knowledge that we have of the world around us—the knowledge, which is the result of painstaking years of study and research, that we take for granted most of the time.

Pyakuryal's internship experience is supported by a Dickinson internship grant. Learn more about internships at Dickinson.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I plan on gaining more research experience by working in a research lab for about a year. I will probably apply to a graduate school after that.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:  

As an international student from Nepal, packing up my bags and leaving for a country I had never been to, thousands of miles away, the most important thing that I have learned so far is that it is important to push yourself. It is necessary to step outside your comfort zone in order to grow and learn. If you do not risk falling, you will never learn to walk.

About my research project:

One of the projects that I worked on during my internship at the Social Minds Lab examines children's approaches to third-party intervention in situations where resources are allocated unfairly. In this study, we told children a short story, then we asked children if they preferred characters in the story who punished someone for behaving unfairly, or if they preferred the characters who compensated the victim. Also, we asked the kids to rate how much they liked each character on a seven-point scale (visualized as smiley faces for easier comprehension). This inquiry addresses fundamental ideas of justice and fairness, which begin to develop in a child from an early age. By working in this project, I learned how ideas of fairness develop over time and how they develop as a function of age.

Favorite movie:

I love a lot of movies for a lot of different reasons, so it would be painful to choose one.

About my service trips:

I have been on two service trips, and I will be leading my third one in my senior year. Service trips are amazing opportunities to meet people different from yourself and connect with them. It is an experience that has a lasting effect. It puts things into perspective and helps you to grow and mature. As a college student, deadlines and projects feel like the most difficult things in the world. However, it is nice to step outside of your bubble and see how people struggle in ways unimaginable to us. It makes the all-nighters and 8 a.m. classes so much better. Therefore, I highly recommend service trips.

On meeting people from all over the world:

Being an international student, you automatically get lumped into this group of “internationals,” beginning with international student orientation, when you bond over how different life in America is. I have therefore had the pleasure of knowing people from all over the world and from all walks of life. This has helped me better connect with and understand people who are different from me. Also, when I tell people I am from Nepal, they always curiously ask me more follow-up questions. So I get to have conversations with a lot of people who are different from me.

In a perfect world …

… we would realize that there is no such thing as perfect.

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Published September 6, 2018