Final thoughts from Penn State students!

10 Jun Final thoughts from Penn State students!

Final thoughts from Penn State students who spent the last three weeks volunteering at the CYEC:

Our final days were a combination of finishing our projects and spending some quality time with the children, youth and staff at the Centre. Each of the teams completed their objectives for our time here both in terms of projects on the ground and getting their reports written to ensure the Centre will be able to use their work after we’re gone.

The Ag team’s survey of dairy farmers found a strong demand for quality feed in the region, so the hay team will work on training new youth and buying additional equipment to expand. Our students also taught them how to make silage so they could also start to provide that as an on-site service for farmers.

The business team wrote final versions of  their professional skills workshops with the youth, and the business development workshops for the women’s group in the informal settlements. They also provided a more comprehensive version of these workshops to be used with new youth who join the Zawadi Youth Enterprise Program.

As you saw, the book-writing was a hit! That team also completed an informal assessment of the peer mentoring program and provided feedback and suggestions to the staff to ensure the program meets the needs of the children and is sustainable.

Now for the fun – we took the staff and youth to dinner Saturday to show our appreciation for all their support while we were here, and Monday morning we made French toast for the children!

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On our final full day, we visited a reception centre for children fresh from the streets. Children need some time to adjust to ‘normal’ living again after being on the streets so while at this centre they learn social skills and become prepared (and willing) to go to school. Many of the children here were quite young…

We also visited a facility the CYEC is developing for their youngest children and saw another potential site they may lease in the future. It is exciting to see their program develop and grow.

Our goals for this program are to both serve as pro-bono consultants to the CYEC and to help our students learn. We think that in order for our students to learn how to be effective professionals in community and/or international development, they need to learn how to have genuine partnerships  with community organizations. At the end of our time here I’m pleased with how our students did. They worked hard, took initiative, were flexible and accomplished a great deal for the Centre. Equally importantly, they worked graciously with our hosts and learned from them – they recognized that this is a true partnership and that we take away from this experience more than we give. They formed relationships that I’m sure will last and learned a great deal about themselves in the process. As they return home I’m sure they’ll continue to reflect on our time here and grow.

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