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Independent Press Award

2024 Distinguished Favorite

My University of the World: Adventures of an International Film & Media Maker

Neill McKee

Neill McKee takes us on an entertaining journey through the developing world from 1970 to 2012. His memoir is filled with compelling dialog, humorous and poignant incidents, thoughts on world development, vivid descriptions of people and places he visited and worked in, and over 200 images (ebook and hardcover in color), all of which bring readers into his "University of the World." The story starts when he becomes a "one-man film crew," documenting the lives of Canadian CUSO volunteers working in Asia and Africa as teachers, medical doctors, nurses, engineers, agriculturalists, foresters, technicians, and a biologist. He learns the craft of filmmaking and meets and marries Elizabeth "on the hoof." The story is enlivened throughout by their challenges and adventures together, and Elizabeth's growing artistic talent and creations. Beginning in 1975, the young couple settles in Ottawa and starts a family, while Neill roams the world for Canada's International Development Research Centre. His award-winning films depict the agency's philosophy and search for solutions to problems in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, rural development, education, health, water and sanitation, and more. Then in 1990, McKee joins UNICEF in Bangladesh, and later in Africa, where he initiates long-lasting multimedia programs for child health, with a focus on empowering girls. In 2001, he moves to Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, and then to Moscow, Russia, where he oversees similar initiatives. That experience leads him to a memorable last post in Washington, D.C. as director of a large global communication project. Throughout the short chapters and in a brief epilogue, McKee reflects on the long-term impact of the projects he documented and of his media creations. This is a book for anyone interested in world affairs and development, film and multimedia production, the use of media for behavior and social change, exotic travel, and interesting career choices.

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