Back to top


Axel Letondot

Organization: Harvest Plus a CGIAR organization organized through Institute for African Studies
Dates: 1-June-2018 to 1-August-2018

In Axel's own words

How I contributed: I helped with projects such as making brochures, editing training guides as well as talking to partners and helping set up and deliver a lecture.

What I felt most challenged by: The biggest challenge I had during my abroad experience was getting used to getting into a regular routine based mostly and work, making time for friends​ and cooking.

What I enjoyed most: My favorite part about my experience was the freedom I got to experience in a new country and culture.

Would I recommend this experience: Yes absolutely, the IAD program gives you all the tools for a successful and impactful abroad experience. They are very helpful with settling you in and are a ​great help while abroad.

Francine Barchett

Organization: Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research
Dates: 6/19/2017 to 8/11/2017
Web: ZIPAR -Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research

In Francine's own words

How I contributed: I created a research paper that will be published by ZIPAR for use by other think tanks and government stakeholders. My project was not simply an internship-specific project, but something that my mentors would have to write anyway if I did not. Their organizational goal is "to provide credible, practical and evidence-based policy analysis, research and debate that improves public policy," which my interviews with Ministry of Agriculture officials and my published work have accomplished. 

What I felt most challenged by: I was most challenged by the slow pace of work. My first week of the internship, I worked at a Cornell pace and felt very efficient. However, one of my research mentors thought I was speedy in hopes of impressing them, so I was told to slow down. Rather than waste my time working unnaturally slow, I took the extra moments to read various articles on my subject matters, which allowed my work to be more wholesome than it otherwise would have been.

What I enjoyed most: I truly enjoyed interviewing Ministry of Agriculture officials, who had designed the specific programmes I was studying. It made me realize how the Government of Zambia, despite being corrupt, was very transparent in terms of giving out information to researchers. All we had to do was call officials, set up a meeting, and then go to their office. This is much simpler than interviewing key American officials! Another highlight (or rather surprise) of my experience was the fact that 1 of the 2 programmes I was studying did not exist according to the entire Ministry of Agriculture! This programme was featured in the budget and the budget address, yet no one knew I interviewed about it! It thus became an excellent opportunity to educate ministry officials on it.

Would I recommend this experience: Yes, I would recommend this program to other students. Our in-depth research and broad collaboration with the national government was really valuable to my research experience, and the mentorship I received from other researchers made me think more critically and challenge existing perceptions.

Kelsey Sorensen

Organization: Choshen Farm. Christian Community Development in Rural Zambia
Dates: 6/12/2016 to 8/12/2016
Web page:

In Kelsey's own words

How I contributed: The organization is working to encourage local farmers to adopt methods of farming more sustainable and beneficial than slash and burn agriculture. During my time in Zambia, I went around to the surrounding farms and discussed ways in which the farmers could adopt conservation methods into their current systems. Many of them had never heard of an alternative to burning and most were relatively open to the idea despite the centuries of tradition backing up their current behavior. These meetings with the community laid the foundation and developed relationships so the organization to continue working with these farmers after my departure. In other words, I expanded the reach of Choshen Farm and educated locals on sustainable farming practices that will improve the productivity of a farm if adopted.

What I felt most challenged by: I felt challenged by the financial demands of the organization and struggled to meet them throughout the entirety of the trip. If this is a problem for any students, I would not recommend this organization and would encourage you to find a Cornell-sponsored opportunity.

What I enjoyed most: I absolutely loved spending my free time with the village kids. They came to my house each day and we would sing, dance, and play football for as many hours as we could. My favorite moment in the trip was when I introduced my translator, one of the local village members, to marshmallows. His face lit up like he was a little boy and it was a lot of fun to see the way he tried to contain himself as he looked at the remaining bag of them at his feet.

Would I recommend this experience: If money is not an issue I strongly recommend this organization. Jeremy and Bethany (the organization leaders) are excellent mentors and I learned a great deal through them. They are fun to spend time with and are overall pretty accommodating. The experience in itself is worth all the money troubles in the world, frankly.

Zhun Che

Organization: Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research
Dates: 5/27/2016 to 7/27/2016
Web page:

In Zhun's own words

How I contributed: I worked on a project on China - Africa trade, investment and partnerships.

What I felt most challenged by: The culture and adapting to a new environment.

What I enjoyed most: Meeting new people and experiencing a new way of life.

Would I recommend this experience: Yes! It was definitely an enriching and educational experience. I grew so much professionally and personally.