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Olivia Hoffmann

Organization: Agrecol Afrique
Dates: 1/20/2016 to 5/8/2016
Web link describing Olivia's experience in Senegal:

In Olivia's own words

How I contributed: Agrecol Afrique is an NGO that promotes organic agriculture and the development of sustainable agricultural networks in rural Senegal. As an intern with Agrecol, I made regular site visits to farms to see their work in practice, I conducted interviews/research on food sovereignty to be used for my senior honors thesis, and (back at the offices) translated documents from French to English.

What I felt most challenged by: I loved the internship but outside of the internship, it was difficult for me to branch out in the city of Thiès and to make friends. Most of the staff at my internship were much older than me so I did not spend time with them outside of work, which made life outside the duration of my internship pass slowly.

What I enjoyed most: I loved the program with which I was studying abroad (MSID - Senegal, it's a program through the University of Minnesota) did a phenomenal job at immersing students in the entire country. I took classes in the capital of Senegal, Dakar, for the first 6 weeks that gave great context and language skills (I was learning Wolof) for my internship with Agrecol (in Thiès) later in the semester. All in all, the program and my internship placement were very well-aligned with my academic interests.

Would I recommend this experience: Yes, especially IARD students because MSID's internship placement will allow students to fulfill their internship experience requirement. I learned a lot about international development and MSID gave me skills and independence that make me feel comfortable returning to Senegal if I wanted to continue working there.