By Grace Farson
For the last half of 2015, I lived in Nepal where I worked as Accountability Lab’s Media and Communications Fellow. In May 2015, I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Communications school where I focused on Media Production. I first learned about the Lab through connections with my professors at UNC and Professor Ken Harper at the Newhouse Center for Global Engagement at Syracuse University.
I arrived in Nepal in late June, shortly after the devastating earthquakes and immediately got to work on a variety of tasks that involved my interests and passion for documentary work. My first role at the Lab involved assisting in documenting the Mobile Citizen Helpdesk project. In doing this, I had an incredible opportunity to travel throughout Nepal and work alongside the volunteers and staff in the 14 worst-hit districts.
In addition to the work I did with the Helpdesk, I worked alongside five talented filmmakers from Onion Films. The filmmakers and I shot, edited, and produced a five-part documentary series and interactive website inspired by the remarkable strength and resilience demonstrated by so many in Nepal in light of the earthquakes. This project involved being present at most of the shoots, traveling throughout the country, leading workshops on editing and interviewing, and providing creative support.
Another project I focused on during my stay in Nepal was Integrity Idol- a national competition to find, film and celebrate Nepal’s most honest government officials. With Integrity Idol, I assisted in a variety of ways including photo and video opportunities as well as helping manage Integrity Idol’s social media channels. Integrity Idol is a truly innovative and exciting project that allowed me to get to know some truly remarkable civil servants around the country. My work with Integrity Idol, in addition to the travels I did across Nepal to film and interview finalists, included an opportunity to travel to the Hague with Ashmita Sharma and present Integrity Idol at the HiiL Innovating Justice Challenge. Watch the video here!
I first came to Nepal on a gap year between high school and university and since then, I have had the incredible opportunity to spend more time in the country and establish deeper roots. In partnering with the Accountability Lab, I benefited from connections and opportunities too numerous to count. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the whole team in Nepal and they demonstrate the kind of dedication, hard-work, and passion that I find it to be a truly inspiring!
During my time at the Lab, I had the chance to pursue my own interests with film, photography, and storytelling and contribute to a dynamic and creative team. My experience working at the Lab sparked new passions and expanded my understanding of both media and Nepal as a whole. Not only did this experience deepen my personal interests and experiences, but it also gave me a chance to learn about what accountability and transparency look like on a global scale.
Grace Farson is an artist, photographer, and filmmaker currently based in Berlin, Germany. More examples of her work from Nepal and elsewhere: