This classroom comes with mountain views

Promoting gender equity in Nepal

From the second her plane touched the ground, Carlee​ says her first week in Kathmandu was exciting, overwhelming, incredible, and terrifying.

"I thought I would be scared, hate the noise, and be frustrated that I didn’t understand much, but instead I found myself loving everything. The colours of people’s clothes, the shops and stalls along every street, even the crazy busyness around every corner... all of it," says the International Development student.

Carlee is spending an eight-month internship with the Lalitpur District Milk Producers Cooperative Union in Nepal. She's developing a women’s economic empowerment action plan as well as leadership, gender equality, and social inclusion training programs for dairy producers.

Our interns' job isn't to make coffee

Carlee is spending her eight-month placement as an intern with the Lalitpur District Milk Producers Cooperative Union in Nepal. She's been developing a women’s economic empowerment action plan as well as leadership, gender equality, and social inclusion training programs for dairy producers throughout the district.

Carlee sitting with a group of women on a porch in Nepal Carlee during a field visit where she interviewed men and women about gender equality and social inclusion. The information collected is helps design training programs.

Difficult, frustrating, and motivating

Sitting in classrooms over the last 3 years, Carlee heard countless times that development is difficult, frustrating, and disappointing. Her experiences in Nepal have proven that to be true.

Strangely enough, these challenges just motivate me more. They make me keen to leave something that will increase awareness of the importance of gender equality.

"I'm often frustrated when things move slowly. I’m often disappointed when I don’t get the answer I was looking for, or don’t accomplish as much in a day as I would like to. But strangely enough, these challenges just motivate me more. They make me keen to leave something that will increase awareness of the importance of gender equality and social inclusion while altering perspectives in Nepal," says Carlee.

Carlee in a small shop in Nepal.A pretty typical store in Chapagaon, this is where Carlee did most of her shopping.

People sitting around incense during Nepalese weddingCarlee had a special Nepalese experience when she attended the wedding of her manager's daughter.

 

A self-professed farm kid from Canada's prairies, the fourth-year student has learned a lot about herself and the world while in Nepal, saying that she's realized people are fundamentally the same, no matter where they are or what background they come from.

"My co-worker and I have the same fears about the future and the same problems, even though we grew up worlds apart. And my neighbour might not speak a word of English, but somehow, we bonded over her dog and the desire to speak with each other."

Connections to last a lifetime

Gráinne Ryder manages the overseas work experience in International Development and says the eight-month field placement is not easy and that students have to adapt.

There can be language barriers, a lack of heat or air conditioning, frequent power outages, pollution, and, for some, being homesick.

"But our students are very determined to push through and become useful to their host organizations. They develop great resilience that they didn’t know they had," she explains.

The experience is definitely transformative.

GRAINNE RYDER

Carlee agrees.

"Despite language barriers and cultural and religious differences, I have made connections here that will last a lifetime."

A view of the Himalayas in Nepal"Waking up and looking out your window to see the sun rising over the Himalayas is pretty incredible," says Carlee.

Going beyond the lecture hall