CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two Oregon State University students are scheduled to travel to Nepal Friday, May 1, to film a documentary and to aid in humanitarian efforts following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that occurred there on April 25.
Cole Miller and Christian Nishioka had been planning the trip to Nepal since January. They were set to accompany CardioStart International, a Florida-based aid group that provides heart surgery and teaches local medical personnel advanced cardiac care, on a two-week humanitarian mission as part of a school project.
When the earthquake occurred, the students’ digital arts instructor, Alina Padilla-Miller, was sure the trip would be cancelled. But CardioStart is continuing with the mission, and the students don’t want to stay home when they could be of service in Nepal.
“I still want to film a documentary, but I’m a lot more concerned about how I can help the people,” said Nishioka, 22, of Sherwood, Ore. “I actually felt like this was an even better time to go and help.”
“Even if I am scared, I know the people over there are even more scared,” said Miller, 22, of Portland. “I think I would regret it if I had a chance to make a difference in the world and didn’t do it.”
The students’ commitment to the project has impressed their teacher.
“When the students said they still wanted to go, I was just stunned,” Padilla-Miller said. “Their biggest concern was how much aid they could provide.”
Miller, a senior majoring in digital communication arts, has been collecting monetary donations that will be used to purchase supplies needed in Nepal. Nishioka, a senior double-majoring in new media communications and business, has spent the last few days rounding up donations of food, blankets and other supplies and also set up donation boxes at each of Oregon State’s cultural centers. Some of the donations also may be shipped to Nepal, he said.
Officials with CardioStart have assured Padilla-Miller that the team and the students’ safety is a priority on the trip. The emphasis on safety and health is one of the benefits of traveling with a medical-based aid group, she said. Their destination is the city of Dhulikhel, about 38 miles from Kathmandu, where the medical team will work with a local hospital.
“We’re just going to be lending a hand wherever we can,” Miller said. “If we can at least put a smile on someone’s face, it’ll be worth it.”
The students still plan to gather video footage of their work. They’ll use it to create a documentary as part of a new digital media course that is in development at OSU. A goal of the new course is to give students a chance to develop a project from design through filming and production, Padilla-Miller said.
Miller and Nishioka are the first two students to take the course, which is being offered as a pilot this spring. Footage from the trip also will be used in promotional materials for CardioStart as part of a partnership with the company, Padilla-Miller said.
The students hope their documentary will help demonstrate the need for aid in Nepal and encourage people to volunteer or donate to humanitarian aid efforts through programs such as CardioStart.
“Everyone has their own point of view and perspective,” Nishioka said. “If I show people what I’m seeing, it’s going to be different than what is on the news. And it might encourage people to get involved.”