Thursday, February 18, 2010

Putting it in perspective

Here is a shortened version of my story...

Last June I graduated a year early from the University of Oregon with degrees in International Studies and Sociology, as well as minors in African Studies and Nonprofit Administration. After taking a month off to visit some friends and family around the country, I began my pursuit for the perfect job. As I am sure you can imagine, this is not the best time to be looking for a job. I spent months searching, making calls, sending resumes and cover letters, and following up. I never even received an interview from anyone but the Rose Quarter catering office. I currently work part-time doing catering events for the Blazers. This is not quite how I imagined my life after graduation.

I started to dream about all the possibilities that the world has for me. Before graduating I planned on doing an internship in East Africa, but due to graduating early, never got around to it. Now I realize that this was a huge mistake because traveling as a student is much cheaper (as are most things in life). I decided since I have been unsuccessful at finding any sort of professional development job, most likely due to lack of experience, an internship would be a great alternative to waiting for something to open up. I decided to be proactive about my situation. I spent a lot of time choosing a program that fit both my personal and professional needs. It is through the Foundation for Sustainable Development. I applied for a community development internship in Kakamega, Kenya.

I spent several weeks waiting to hear if I was accepted to the internship. During this time I applied for numerous grants. Unfortunately, only one awarded me money. Most of them felt that I needed to have more information about the work I would be doing before they would support me. However, in order for me to build a project, I need to be in country. Or at least this is the sustainable way of working abroad, something many people don't quite understand. Luckily, I was accepted! This has sparked a whole new focus in my life.

I am now tirelessly on the search for funding. I need to come up with $17,600 to cover the cost of my entire trip by April 5th. I would hate to have to give up on yet another dream, the first being working for a development nonprofit out of college. So now I am looking at all of my options. I realized I would not be at this point if it weren't for many people. Hence, why I have contacted all of you.

I think it is important that people see that my education and support from friends, family, and even strangers, has gotten me here and how it will benefit both me and the people I will work with in Kenya. This internship is an investment in communities far away, as well as my future.

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