Student stories

Dispute resolution co-op student helps to support migrant workers in Nepal

Cate Lawrence

Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC)

As a graduate student in the Dispute Resolution program, Cate Lawrence wanted broaden her sense of context on a global scale. Last semester, she found her own co-op placement in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she put her coursework into action by supporting three organizations to improve the situation of Nepali migrant workers in vulnerable situations.

Finding her own co-op work term made sense when Cate saw that the Diplomacy Training Program aligned with her perspective. “The program itself reflects my interests in capacity building, facilitation, migrant workers' rights, cross-cultural communication, and movement building,” she says. “It was hard to say no!”

Although Cate was based in Kathmandu, Nepal for her co-op work term, she worked as a program assistant with three different organizations: Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC) in Nepal, the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) in Sydney, Australia and the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) in Manila, Philippines.

During her work term, Cate’s main role was to maintain the momentum of a movement campaign among five modules. She worked with civil society to develop an action plan for the second UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration happening in October 2013, and developed a concept design and supported the National Social Forum on Migration. Cate also collaborated with migrant civil society organizations in Nepal to finalize a three-year strategy to establish safe migration in Nepal. These projects were particularly interesting to Cate, as she wants to pursue a career in skills development and capacity building for grassroots organizations.

“I strongly believe in the need for capacity building programs for grassroots organizations that allow for effective engagement with intergovernmental mechanisms,” she says. “Given that these organizations have firsthand experience working with migrant workers facing human rights violations, they often have the most practical understanding of these issues and those perspectives should be represented in policies and international documents.”

Many of the skills Cate developed during her co-op term came from adapting to a different cultural experience. Patience was a necessary on-the-job competency that she developed in Nepal. “Only having three hours of power a day, protests and rallies blocking major roadways, language barriers and cultural differences are all part of the learning curve,” she says. “I’ve learned so much, not only about Nepal, capacity building programs and movement building, but also about myself.”

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