Organization: Episcopal Relief & Development
Web page: http://www.episcopalrelief.org/where-we-work/country/burundi
In Emily's own words
How I contributed: Building upon the initiatives for food security, diet diversification, and micronutrient deficiency, I initiated and completed different related projects drawing upon sustainable agriculture technique. The work I completed aligned with the "sustainable livelihoods" initiative of Episcopal Relief and Development. Working with their partner organization in Burundi: The Provincial Anglican Church of Burundi (PEAB), I worked with established projects in agroforestry, cassava, banana, and water sanitation as well as initiating my own tasks in relation to succession and sustainability of kitchen, keyhole gardens where women targets grew new vegetable crops.
What I felt most challenged by: The language barrier can be at times challenging if one does not stay patient, nor pushes themselves to try. I was fortunate to have a colleague who provided to me some translation services in the field, however, the language and cultural barriers that come with working in Burundi are something that can test one's patience.
What I enjoyed most: There were many enjoyable things I was able to do in my very, very short time in Burundi. Although there is not one thing that can demonstrate my complete happiness or joy in my travels, there is something I appreciated: independence. As a student who had yet to take any classes at Cornell, and to come into the trip with very little to establish any sort of certainty in how my time there would play out, I enjoyed that I got to use my knowledge in the ways where I could make a difference and be successful. If it were not for my flexibility in being able to decide that I wanted to demonstrate seed saving or mulching techniques, I would not have had a definite work plan to show for my time there; nor would I have been able to spend as much time working and learning from farmers.
Would I recommend this experience: This experience should be recommended to the right students. I would suggest this opportunity to driven students who are okay with planning and executing research/work independently of structure. Students should be willing to engage in the culture and all times and have a strong desire to be in Burundi. There is opportunity for hands on work in Burundi and it can be a great experience for many. There are multiple areas of direction one is able to go through pursuing opportunities with Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and their local partner the Provincial Anglican Church of Burundi (PEAB).