#FromTheField: Alice, in Nepal working with Project Managers for Education and WASH
Alice Lunardelli completed her Master PMC – Project Management for International Cooperation, Euro-Project Management and Local Development with Social Change School in 2017 and after graduating spent 12 weeks in the field, working with an INGO called Street Child of Nepal.
Let’s hear her story and learn more about her experience on the field (Italian version available here):
Street Child of Nepal is an INGO focused on Education and Community Empowerment (established in 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal) that contributed to help rebuild schools in the communities worst-affected by the 2015 Nepali earthquake.
My desire to be part of Street Child of Nepal’s team came from my passion for Education, a field I haven’t really built up a career in, but that I have always nurtured through teaching experiences and self-studies, together with the love for Asian Cultures. After living in Cambodia and visiting a few more Asian countries back in 2015 and 2016, I felt intrigued by Asia and decided to return right after my graduation.
This International Volunteer placement was a unique opportunity to make a critical contribution to an organisation that provides children the opportunity to access an inclusive, sustainable and life-saving education. As Assistant Program Manager, I was able to put my Master’s learnings into practice. My main contribution consisted in coordinating a few Schooling Programs and WASH projects promoted in the most remote district of Nepal. Working closely to Project Managers I gained a deep understanding of the most challenging problems affecting Nepali children and communities and got first-hand experience in performing research and monitoring diverse projects. Surprisingly, I grew a warm interest in Monitoring and Evaluation activities, a project phase I would love to gain more expertise about.
Back in 2015, my career was rerouted from the Profit to the Non-Profit sector. After 7 years working in Digital Marketing and Communication for a quite robust European Company, I realised my place was in the Development sector, where Education represents a crucial cornerstone. My marketer’s skills were really useful and appreciated during my time at Street Child, as I was able to contribute to the launch of a Social Enterprise created by the organization.
Sometimes the path to achieve my dream job seems harsh, as I am not a junior anymore, but still don’t have a long experience in the third sector. Despite my age and the competitive market, I feel my perseverance and truthful passion for human rights, education and development causes are strong allies in my personal and professional growth.
When working in the field, especially in a country which is culturally diverse from your native one, challenges are difficult to overcome. Work-wise, I was prepared to work in a sort of slow motion environment. Timing is not as crucial as in the western world. Time management is not as strict as in European offices. Tasks get procrastinated sometimes and completed with delay simply because local partners and international donors works in different time zones, connections are challenging, and roads are unsafe and jammed. Asian cultures do not rush, are patient and always disseminating positive vibes. If you are not used to this, it might feel frustrating sometimes.
Nepali people are welcoming and kind of used to foreigners. They do appreciate NGOs workers and make you feel at home. The language barrier is easily overcome as the majority of citizens speak some English, thus communication is effective and enjoyable. For spice-lovers, food is terrific, whilst it can become a nightmare for foodies who do not enjoy curry, like me!
During the 12 weeks not only I joined a team of 20 people, I also became temporarily part of a family made of Nepali and worldwide volunteers. I shared my accommodation with other young volunteers at their very first working experience. It was a good opportunity to exchange knowledge and make new international friends.
Moving forward, my career plan is to keep honing my project manager skills, temporally leaving the field life to the side for a little while, and to focus more on desk officer tasks. Asia is definitely a country I want to work in in the future. Right now, I feel the need to explore more of African and South American development projects though, countries which I am still inexperienced with.