Ben Painter.

People in Need Nepal & Axium Education - Nepal & South Africa

Project Description

Preston Public Interest Career Fund Recipient

Seeking a cultural immersion experience and an opportunity to further my meditation practice, I spent my Spring of 2015 in Nepal with a gap year program. I was in Nepal when the devastating earthquake hit. Thankfully, I was in a safe location and was physically unhurt. After the earthquake, Where There Be Dragons, the gap year program I was on, immediately started making plans for us to leave the country. However, feeling the need to help, I wanted to sign out of my program and stay in Nepal to volunteer. I did not want to leave the country knowing how much suffering was going on. Only after many hours of tough conversations with one of my instructors did I come to realize that at that particular time and place it was actually best for me to leave the country. Being a recent high school grad without development or medical experience, I lacked the necessary skills to contribute in that situation. My lack of ability to make an impact was hard to accept, but I accepted it nonetheless. I boarded the plane back to the United States with my ego checked and a newfound intention to develop the skills necessary in order to effectively contribute to development work- my career path of interest.

Since then, I have dedicated my studies to the field of development, taking development classes in the economics and the government departments. I have come to realize that there are many ways a person can get involved in developmental work. I could be a member of a team of researchers in a think tank, a policy maker in Washington, an implementer the ground with an NGO, etc. Each of these approaches comes with its own set of considerations concerning ethics and effectiveness, particularly relating to power structures and community engagement.

My summer plans will allow me to accomplish two goals. Firstly, I will be able to have a tangible positive impact on these organizations with my work. My images may inspire potential donors to contribute to these causes. I may not have had the necessary skills to contribute immediately after the earthquake, but I have now cultivated a skillset through my development and photography classes. With these skills, I can effectively contribute to the mission of these organizations. Secondly, this summer will be extremely helpful for my career. Not only will I be gaining valuable experience in my field of interest, I will also get to compare and contrast two very different approaches to development. Because I am working with one large governmental organization with a large budget and one smaller community-based NGO, I will be able to apply the material I have been learning in my development classes in order to experience and analyze first hand these two different organizations’ approaches to their work. This comparison will be extremely useful for me in as I find my best fit within the development field.

Project Details

  • Date September 22, 2017
  • Tags 2017, Africa, Asia, Communications, Education, Preston, Social Service, Sophomore

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