Hello, my name is Linda McCandless and I'm the Associate Director for Communications for International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Prior to 2012-13, I did not know much about the Humphrey Fellowship program. My first contact really came through Francine Jasper when she asked me to take a group of the Humphrey Fellows to Syracuse to a peace concert with the Dalai Lama. At that time I was really impressed by them as people in the fact that I realized that these were mid-career professionals that were bringing a lot to the table, and there was a possibility that there's this mutual benefit to be had to working with them.
At that time I met one of the Fellows who was a journalist from Nepal. She was a writer, she was an interviewer, she had skills as an editor, she has a strong sense of story, and she wanted to gain more experience in the U.S. At first, Maina wrote some press releases for us, and they were published in the Cornell Chronicle, and at the same time she started helping us plan for a trip that the videographer and myself were taking to Nepal in February and March for the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative to interview farmers and scientists who were participating in the South Asia Association for regional cooperation wheat rust training program. With Maina's help, we were able to schedule a press conference, there about 30 journalists who came. Without her help, I'm not sure anyone would've showed up. She used her contacts at this society for economic journalists in Nepal, many of whom she works with in her regular job there on the Kantipur Daily.
She also was invaluable in interviewing farmers in the field and scientists and participants. She knew how to ask interview questions and she had some scientific background, so she was really helpful in getting good video footage. While we were there she also wrote an article that was also published in the Kantipur Daily. So we had a lot of impact in Nepal, and in Kathmandu and other parts of South Asia, actually because of her participation. When we got back to Ithaca she helped us then get these videos edited, translated the interviews, helped provide the captions for the interviews, and gained some skills herself through Chris Knight who taught her some of the software that she needed. So now those videos are online and they are part of the BGRI library and without her help I really don't think that would've been possible, nor would they be at the quality they are. She was an excellent cultural liaison for us with the Nepalese, and just brought experiences, really mid-career experiences. She was a colleague in these efforts.
We continued to work with her during a six week affiliation through mid-June, when she left to go back to Nepal and on the video continued with press releases, and it has been an excellent experience I think for both of us, and certainly has benefited communications in IP-CALS.