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June 12 , 2003, Gazette

CIDA grant leads student to Nepal
A road less travelled

Lisa Hoffe
Submitted photo
Lisa Hoffe takes a break from trekking the Long Range Traverse in Gros Morne National Park in 2002. Ms Hoffe said her hiking experience will be a benefit when she heads to Nepal.

By Kristin Harris
SPARK correspondent

The road less travelled will lead Lisa Hoffe to Nepal for four months this fall. Funded by a $10,000 CIDA Innovative Research Award, Ms. Hoffe is using this award to fund an internship degree requirement for her master’s in women studies.

More than that, however, the master’s candidate in Women’s Studies at Memorial is taking the opportunity to not only expand her own horizons, but, in her words, “to make life better for women in another part of the world, and share cultural experience.”

CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, funds graduate students across Canada to undertake projects with a variety of community-based organizations throughout the developing world. While Ms. Hoffe was looking to completing her master’s, she discovered this award and decided that it would afford her a unique opportunity.

Having worked and traveled in Asia for two years, and being an avid trekker and hiker, she was intrigued in Nepal as a destination. Additionally, Ms. Hoffe’s 10 years of experience in media, as a reporter and producer for radio and television, gave her a set of practical skills that she wanted to put to use.

While looking at potential organizations, she settled on SAS, a feminist organization in Nepal. Its membership is comprised of women in the media in Nepal, consisting of journalists, creative writers, new media, etc. They focus on media advocacy campaigns to better the situation of women in the country. She immediately felt that there was a “fit” with her and the organization, as she could take her professional skills and put them to use with her academic interests in a tangible way, as well as develop her own skills professionally. SAS immediately agreed to sponsor her.

While the details of her project are still being hammered out, Ms. Hoffe intends to put together a 30-minute documentary or video production dealing with issues of women living in Nepal.

“I want to get the word out about challenges to gender equality, and work with the organization towards media advocacy campaigns,” she said. “I see this piece as a tool of communication about daily life of women in Nepal.”

Upon her return to Canada, Ms. Hoffe hopes to find a network in Canada who will broadcast it.

This is not only a challenging project, but an expensive one as well. While CIDA’s award is indeed generous, film and video production can become quite costly. For this reason, Ms. Hoffe is seeking a video camera to be donated, or loaned for her trip. EdTech at Memorial has agreed to help edit the piece when she returns, as a $3,000 in-kind donation.

Ms. Hoffe sees the finished product as something that can benefit herself, SAS and women in Nepal, and is grateful for the CIDA award that is making this possible. She encourages students to seek out awards, internships and other resources, as they can provide opportunities that students may never otherwise dream of.

Information and applications for CIDA awards can be found at www.cbie.ca, the Web site for the Canadian Bureau of International Education. To speak with Ms. Hoffe directly about her project, she may be reached at lisahoffe@yahoo.ca.