Construction management student Won-Hae Shim decided to undertake her New Colombo Plan scholarship in Nepal to learn about and take part in reconstruction following the country’s devastating 2015 earthquake.
Initially overwhelmed by the choice of 40 possible locations for her New Colombo Plan experience, Won-Hae was drawn to Nepal, which was still recovering from the devastating 2015 earthquake that affected over eight million people and destroyed 500,000 homes.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity to be part of that reconstruction effort and to learn from it,” said the University of Technology Sydney student.
Won-Hae, the 2018 NCP Nepal Fellow, had a semester studying construction management at the Nepal Engineering College before embarking on internships at the National Society for Earthquake Technology and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
During her time at UNOPS, Won-Hae worked on support and communication for an initiative called ‘Field Sight’, a mobile-based application developed after the earthquake to help engineering teams based in Kathmandu to support reconstruction efforts across the country more quickly and easily. “It’s proven to be such a useful tool that it’s now being implemented all over the world.”
Her internships provided many useful networking opportunities. “I was able to meet a lot of people in this field doing really interesting work, and those connections I will definitely keep.”
“The New Colombo Plan experience has definitely reinforced my interest and passion for doing construction project management in developing countries or post disaster-crisis settings,” Won-Hae said.
The immersive nature of the New Colombo Plan proved to be enlightening despite Won-Hae’s extensive prior travels. “You make much deeper connections and learn so much about the culture, the challenges, and the unexpected always happens—I was invited to festivals, was an extra in a movie and competed in a power-lifting competition!” she said.
“I’ve made life-long professional connections and friendships while living, working and studying in Nepal.
“It’s true what they say, the New Colombo Plan is an incredible, life-changing experience, particularly for developing your passions, but also to use that experience to contribute and give back to Australia.”