Kim van Hooijdonk wins international internship photo competition with Nepalese view

“This mysterious jungle blanketed by mist was the view I had every day from my room at the Nepalese coffee farmer, who had offered me a place to stay during my internship. The mist prevents you from seeing the other side of the valley. Just like your thoughts that can occasionally be a bit ‘cloudy’ from all the new experiences and uncertainties. I grew up a lot during this internship, because I learned about taking responsibility. No matter how beautiful it is out there, it’s up to you to reach the other side, without getting lost in the clouds.” 
 
This is the beautiful piece of text that accompanied the photo with which Kim van Hooijdonk won this year’s international internship photo competition, organised by the International Office at the HAS University of Applied Sciences. Kim is in her third year of Spatial & Environmental Planning and specialises in Landscape planning & Development. We asked her a few questions about her internship.
 
International internship photo competition HAS University
 
Which international adventure did you go on?
“I did my internship at The Maya Foundation, a Dutch development organisation in Nepal. Maya is the Nepalese word for love, and that is also the most important value within the organisation,” says Kim. “The organisation supports projects in education, healthcare and rural development, in cooperation with the community.”
 
Your internship had something to do with coffee, didn’t it?
“I focussed mainly on coffee cultivation. This crop can offer new possibilities to local farmers, to generate a better income. I stayed with a local coffee farmer, whose plantation was running smoothly, so I could learn from him how to set up and maintain a coffee plantation. There were other farmers on the other side of the valley, who had also started cultivating coffee, only they weren’t doing so well. Research told me that they didn’t have enough knowledge to set up a plantation. That’s why I developed a brochure for these farmers and the volunteers from the organisation that supports them.”
 
What was the toughest challenge?
“An internship in a developing country is always a challenge. The circumstances there are completely different to here. Successfully completing a project is a lot more difficult due to the language barrier and living conditions. For example, there were a few days when I didn’t have electricity. I’m proud of myself for the fact that I became part of the local community and lived in a small village with a completely different culture and primitive conditions for 3 months. I learned so much about myself.” 
 
See all the submissions 
Kim is happy with the prize she won. “I love both writing and photography, and I just couldn’t let this competition pass. It motivates me to keep taking pictures.” Kim kept a blog during her internship in Nepal and will also write about her new internship at Werkplaats de Gruyter near Den Bosch. In total, 42 students took part in the International Office photo competition. See all the submissions here.