Reflecting on my experience

Publish by : Paige Cooke-Hughes

Now that I’m nearing the end of my internship I’m pleased to report that it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. It’s been enlightening to see just how applicable the information I have been learning in my undergraduate program at uOttawa is to hands-on international development practitioners. I’m studying international economics and development, which entails a lot of research, writing, and analytical reasoning. This internship has allowed me to further develop these skills and related knowledge streams. My program delves deeply into concepts like sustainable development, the importance of grassroots movements, and how disaggregated data can tell a more comprehensive story than the aggregate data that is commonly collected today. While working at the NACCFL I found that they championed a lot of these ideas, and I was well prepared to support their initiatives which aligned with these goals.

In addition, many of my tasks have actually helped me learn more about the NACCFL while I’ve been completing them. For instance, I’ve been assigned a lot of communications deliverables. I was to create content for NACCFLs website, their PowerPoint presentations used to spread awareness of the organization’s work, and their brochures handed out to potential donors or interested parties. When coming up with content or even reformulating existing information I found that I was learning a lot more about the organization. I knew from my research going into this position that the NACCFL worked to provide financial literacy and business management training to smallholder farmers. I also knew that the NACCFL did lobbying work to secure grants and helpful services for small farmers. What I did not know was that the NACCFL places such emphasis on women’s participation, with 82% female members. They reach members from a diversity of ethnic groups and have member cooperatives in 71 out of 77 of Nepal’s districts. Furthermore, they promote agro-technologies, agro-tourism, and community welfare programs.

I was also surprised by the amount of trust I was granted to create work that would be circulated to the public. It was very rewarding to know that my work was making a tangible difference in the organization, and was being seen and used in important ways. Rather than doing work to fill time or receive grades, which much of student life can entail, this placement gave me a heightened sense of personal responsibility over my work knowing it would be made available to the public.

Ultimately, this internship has surpassed my expectations with respect to the training offered, the work tasks I was given, and learning opportunities in the field. I’m so pleased to have taken part in this experience this summer!

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