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Penn State Aggie Travels to Africa

Posted: April 12, 2013

Arika will be traveling to Africa, Kenya in particular, in a few short weeks as part of CED/AG ECO 499A, an embedded course.

Hello everyone!

I thought this week I would talk about the unique opportunities offered by the College of Ag Sciences, in particular traveling abroad. It has been a dream of mine to travel abroad and luckily the College of Ag Sciences offers a minor where you can not only study international agriculture, but participate in study-abroad opportunities as well. Blending my love for agriculture and travel could not get any better! My advice for anyone with the same dream as mine is to take the initiative and live out your dreams while you can. Use the resources you’ve been given and visit the Ag Sciences International Programs office while you’re here. If it wouldn’t have been for the trip I made to the International Programs office, I might not be telling you today that I will be traveling this May to Kenya for three weeks.

During the current semester I have being meeting with my CED/AG ECO 499A class to prepare for our trip to Kenya and understand the purpose of our trip.

Since 2007, Penn State has been working very closely with a program called the CYEC, the Children and Youth Empowerment Center. This year, our class will be traveling to Nyeri, Kenya where we will be working with youth at the center for about three weeks. Throughout the semester we have been working on various projects such as production agriculture, waste to value, peer mentoring, and training the trainer. The waste-to-value project is converting leftover scrap metals and various scrap garbage into useful products that the youth can sell to the surrounding communities. On top of these various projects they are also using the manure from the animals in a methane digester that will provide energy to the rest of the center.

Our class has been meeting since the start of the semester every Friday for two hours a week. We discuss the setting of Kenya and focus on the social, economical, and political history and background to have a better understanding of the environment we’ll be working in.

For my team project, I work with two other students in the class with agriculture-related majors. Together, the three of us will be constructing a business plan for a youth at the center who would like to start his own profitable dairy goat business. Our work will include teaching him about a loan program and how it works so that he can pay back the cooperative for his starter goat. Other projects that we’ll be working on include: herd management and record keeping for a dairy operation, health maintenance for all livestock herds managed by the center, and producing alternative products as a source of income for equipment, feed, and other supplies needed for the animals.

As the weeks grow shorter, my anticipation starts to grow. I will admit I am a bit nervous as this will be my first study-abroad experience, but I am ready for the challenge and ready for this new chapter in my life. We take so much for granted that sometimes we overlook opportunities that are standing out in front of us. You’re only given one life, so why not live it? I challenge all of you to make yourself a bucket list when you attend college and do as much as possible, learn from every experience, and make memories to last a lifetime.

I will keep blogging about my trip as the weeks grow closer. I’d love to hear from readers and will answer any questions about my trip and what I’ll be doing while in Kenya.

Until next time, current and future Nittany Lions!

--Arika

 

Here is also a short video that shows more of Penn State's work with the CYEC.