Organization: Villages in Partnership
Dates: 6/1/2016 to 7/27/2016
Web page: http://villagesinpartnership.org
In Emma's own words
How I contributed: I feel that my impact on the organization, and the people it targets, wasn't as great as I had hoped for going into the internship. Though I worked alongside the staff members working towards VIP's goals to empower rural villages so that they might lift themselves out of poverty, I cannot help but think I did not contribute anything new, of my own doing. I contributed to the mission of the organization by assisting in many agricultural demonstrations and trainings, though my interaction with the local people was limited due to language barriers. I wish I had been able to have my own responsibilities, so that way I could have contributed something original to the project, but without the knowledge of Chichewa, this seemed impossible. I feel that going forward, I would be able to contribute more to VIP, if I were ever given the chance to go back to Malawi.
What I felt most challenged by: I was definitely most challenged by the language, as I felt that was the one barrier that prevented me from being more of an asset to VIP. Had I been able to communicate in Chichewa, I feel I could have interacted with the local people in a way that both allowed me to share knowledge that I have, and learn from them in return.
What I enjoyed most: The people of Malawi are absolutely amazing. Everyone I met was warm and welcoming, and the friendships that I have made will follow me well into the future. I had read that Malawi is nicknamed, "The Warm Heart of Africa," and found this to me the most truthful bit of information. Whenever I felt discouraged and frustrated with the culture or anything at all, I was always made to feel more comfortable by my friends and peers. If I ever get the opportunity to return to VIP in Malawi, I would be doing so for the people I have met.
Would I recommend this experience: Though I believe in the work that VIP is doing in Malawi, I would have to state that this program does need some alterations before the next student intern were to arrive. As I was the first intern, my experience was a bit rocky, which I do not fault VIP or Cornell with at all. I went to Malawi knowing that it would be a learning experience for both VIP and myself. I hope that my working with VIP will pave the way for more opportunities for IARD students with this organization.