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Loyalist students get the chance of a lifetime

By: Kaitlyn Burley [1]

BELLEVILLE – Sarah Robertson and Micah Bond are looking forward to travelling to Nepal for a job placement.

The photojournalism students at Loyalist College [2] heard about the placement when their professor announced it to the class.

Robertson said her interest in the opportunity came from the story they would be working on.

The story is about a young woman named Laxmi K.C. Mary McWhirter, a woman who travelled to Nepal to volunteer as a nurse, spent two years in Dhulikhel, Nepal. While she was there, McWhirter met Laxmi who wanted to become a doctor.  McWhirter wrote on her website [3] that she held a fundraiser to send her to school. In November, 2010, Laxmi graduated from medical school.

Loyalist College professor, Joe Callahan, organized the placement. He said he was only planning on sending one student, but after seeing the portfolios submitted he and McWhirter decided to send two.

He said the students are going to be focusing on telling Laxmi’s story through, not only writing, but also video and photography.

“The purpose of the two photojournalism students going over, is to tell Laxmi’s story,” he said. “Go over there, and document what it is she’s doing now, and to construct a fairly detailed and complex story.”

Callahan said because the students are in photojournalism, there will be a strong image-based element to the story – both still photos and video. He said they will still be expected to provide a written component as well.

He hopes the students will be able to help McWhirter raise more money to help fund more girls – in a culture where women have a hard time completing school.

Robertson said she’s very passionate about this topic.

“It’s just an amazing and heart-warming story,” she said. “That was something I really wanted to be a part of.”

Bond said he was instantly interested in going to Nepal, because he’s already been there a couple times. He said he’s looking forward to the new experiences that will come along with the placement.

“It’s going to be a good entry point to work on some documentary stuff, work overseas, get some practice working with a different culture through translators and interpreters, so I think it’s going to be a really great experience for us,” he said.

The students said that so far the majority of the placement is being paid for out-of-pocket. Robertson said they are putting together a crowd-funding video to help raise money for their trip. Callahan is also trying to put them in contact with other sources of funding.

Bond said the two students are aware there is a level of risk they face when travelling to a country like Nepal, but he said being there with a fellow student will provide some level of protection.