International Development

Fall 2016

Pictured above: Courtney Lang takes a picture of the scenic Annapurna Mountains.

Alana Westervelt receives inaugural Alex Foto Memorial Award

Alana Westervelt

Fourth-year International Development student Alana Westervelt becomes the first recipient of an award that was set up to commemorate the humanitarian spirit of Alex Foto, a St. Paul’s student who passed away suddenly in the summer of 2014.

“It is an honour and a privilege to receive this award,” Alana said. “Although I never had the opportunity to meet Alex, the countless stories my classmates and professors have shared about her and her passion for development speak to the incredible person that she was.”

Alana is currently in Tanzania on her eight-month field placement, working with the Tanzania Tourist Board. She is helping to develop marketing and business tools for cultural tourism programs across the country. Part of the funds collected by these cultural tourism programs is distributed into local communities through community development projects, humanitarian relief projects, and environmental conservation efforts.

Alana was nominated for the award by faculty in the International Development program for being a “highly intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate student who embodies the ethos of the award.”

The award is worth $1,000 and goes to an International Development student completing the fourth-year placement component of the program, and who cares deeply about humanitarian and anti-poverty work.

Namaste from Nepal

Namaste. My name is Courtney Lang and I am a fourth-year International Development (INDEV) student currently completing my overseas placement in Nepal.

My passion lies in the promotion of sustainable agriculture, and I have the amazing opportunity to be working with Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Ltd., which is an organization supporting farmer cooperatives across Nepal. They provide training and resources to small farmers and their communities in efforts to promote sustainable development and reduce poverty.

Below: Creating a colourful rangoli for Tihar festival celebrations in Lalitpur district, Nepal. 

Courtney crouching as she creates colorful rangoli for festivalMy favourite part about my position here in Nepal is getting to travel around this beautiful country meeting individuals with such inspirational stories to tell. Here in Nepal the agricultural industry is mostly what we would call traditional, very different than Canada's agricultural industries. For me learning about the differences and similarities between the Nepalese and Canadian agricultural industry has been very interesting.

Living in Nepal is most enjoyable: Getting used to the constant hum of traffic and melodies of beeps, honks, and barks is more enjoyable then I would have ever imagined. I am greeted each day by welcoming smiles and ‘namastes’ on my way to work. Living in Nepal truly feels like living among family. Even the ways in which people refer to each other here demonstrates this idea of family: Males are referred to as dai (brother) and females are referred to as didi (sister). You almost wouldn’t know this is a country still recovering from a devastating earthquake just over a year ago.

Even with construction ongoing and roads that aren’t always in the best condition, the people here are so resilient and resourceful. For many, the memories of the earthquake are still fresh in their minds. Many lost their homes, and in some cases, loved ones as well. Religion and culture are central here in Nepal and provide much strength and support to Nepalese people, which add to their resilience. 

Courtney receives lei as part of welcoming ceremony

Traditional welcoming ceremony by farmer cooperative in Chitlang, Makwanpur district Nepal

I have plans to explore as many districts of Nepal as I can while I am here — learning about the vastly different cultures and taking in the breathtaking landscapes. I am truly grateful to the University of Waterloo and St. Paul’s University College for providing me with the opportunity to be here. It’s been an amazing experience so far! I would recommend the INDEV program and the overseas placement to anyone looking to expand their horizons and learn about new cultures and people in a way that would never be possible in the classroom.

Courtney Lang
Fourth-year International Development