January 2019 Student Spotlight
January Student Spotlight with Dipika Shrestha, MIA ‘19
Students who join the Marxe School’s Master of International Affairs typically want to make a global impact. In this case, a student who has already made her mark around the globe but is still hungry has joined the MIA. Dipika tells us about the work she did in Nepal after the earthquake in 2015, her podcast on new immigrants’ stories, and her MIA experience thus far.
Why did you choose to join the MIA? What has your experience been like thus far?
When I was working for an international non-governmental organization, BBC Media Action from 2009 to 2014 in Nepal, my work experience helped me identify my career goals and decide that I wanted to pursue my career in development sector through international nonprofit organizations. The MIA program at Baruch College offers a concentration on international nonprofit organizations. So that is why I joined the MIA.
So far, my experience here has been truly worth it. From subjects like cross-cultural communication to research and analysis, writing research paper, memo, grants, and budgets, I am gradually developing new skills that will enable me to contribute effectively to the organization I will be working for.
The most interesting of all, with every class, I realize there is so much I did not know, and there is so much I still need to explore. For me the best part is the opportunity to learn new things from my classmates from across the world.
Tell us about the work you did during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
Before coming to the US I was working with BBC Media Action’s Lifeline Communication Project in Nepal. We were working closely with journalists and humanitarian organizations including the UN agencies, Nepal Red Cross, and the Ministry of Home Affairs on building a model of working together in case of any future emergencies to ensure we deliver effective life-saving information to the affected population.
When the devastating earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, 2015, I was in New York. I immediately got in touch with my former boss based in London and with my colleagues in Kathmandu and left for Nepal. We formed a team of radio producers and started producing a daily radio show with basic information like how to make your drinking water safe, who to contact for relief materials, how to keep your children safe, and how to prevent sexual abuses in camps. We called the show Milijuli Nepaliwhich roughly translates to ‘Together Nepal.’ We broadcast the show via BBC World Service’s Nepali language service.
Starting from May 2, 2015, the show continues to date and is currently being produced by my colleagues. Currently its focus is on rebuilding post-earthquake.
What makes for effective communication in the face of public emergencies and disasters?
In a normal scenario, reporters are usually reporting about what has happened, and what has gone wrong. Whereas during emergencies and disasters, media should report ‘for the affected population’ and ‘not about the affected population’.
It is important to realize that ‘basic life-saving information’ is as equally important as food, cloth, and shelter. Let’s think of it this way, you have just been affected by a disaster. What information will you be desperate for – how the calamity happened, the number of casualties, and arguments on what has gone wrong in providing relief? Or would you rather be interested in learning about the kind of help coming your way, who is coming to help you, and how to help yourself until the rescuers and relief providers reach you? Lack of basic but crucial information like this can put more lives in danger.
Tell us about your podcast, “At the End of the Day.”
The main objective of this weekly podcast is to guide the newly arriving immigrants in the United States. In the podcast we talk to people about their personal story – the struggle and challenges they faced as an immigrant – and discuss what exactly they did to overcome their challenges.
The conversation aims to help the new immigrants adjust to the new place and make the most out of the challenges. Some of our priority subjects are discussions on adjusting the new lifestyle, merging into the new community, language barrier, cultural diversity, application process for university education, networking, and approaching people for career guidance.