CED499A- Issues in Economic, Community and Agricultural Development: Andrew Bonneau, Psychology Major, International Agriculture Minor


Posted: September 5, 2013

While only three weeks passed in Kenya, for me and most of my classmates it seemed like months...

From the booming capital of Nairobi to mostly rural area of Nyeri we were exposed to the rapid industrial expansion of a developing nation and the tranquil silence of a night near the equator. Every single thing that we were exposed to seemed BonneauKenya2.pngnovel in some way and many things that are mundane at home, like going to the supermarket, became an exciting learning experience. 

Our work at the CYEC (Children and Youth Empowerment Center) involved a number of different projects relating to business development, agriculture, and social development. I personally became involved with a youth mentorship program that we were designing. Ours was the first year that such a project was being initiated so there definitely was a bit of apprehension regarding the program’s development and how it would be implemented. The semester prior to our travel we took time to collect resources here in the United States that we could bring to the Center as an outline for what the potential program would become.

Once at the Center it became apparent to us that no level of preparation could really set us on firm ground as far as the project was concerned. It seemed like every aspect of our program would need alteration to make it suitable for the Center. We had to take stock of what resources were really available for the youth and ourselves to use as well as map out the assets of the local community that could serve our goals. Interviews were conducted with the youth to determine their perceptions of peerBonneauKenya3.png mentoring and how they felt it could best help them succeed at the Center.

Working with others in a radically different culture than your own compounds the problems that people face when working in groups. There are issues relating to communication, presentation, and goal setting that must be overcome or adapted to if you want to take advantage of each parties strengths. Over the course of our three weeks there I believe I gained a better understanding of these dimensions and wish I had more time to develop my skills as a project coordinator and facilitator. Luckily, I strongly believe I will be back there next summer, this time for a much longer stay.