Through FSD I was able to experience the technological challenges that villagers in Uganda face. FSD did 2 things very well. Firstly, they assigned me to a community that was excited about technology and found me a wonderful host family. Living among the community and working with them to provide useful sustainable businesses could not have happened with my organization alone. Secondly they advised me on how to best approach sustainable development. The keys rules are to ensure that any initiative you and the community spend time building, is one where all the correct incentives line up such that the initiative continues well past your time. This was important advice to ensuring that your time is not wasted on projects that fail. Instead, most FSD projects lead to some tangible benefit for the community because the community is the main driver. The interns learn a great deal and help where they can by offering their knowledge and experience in a very different part of the world. This is a passive but highly effective method of development.
In May 2015 I did a service trip with FSD to Nicaragua. I didn't like the hotel they put us up in (no air conditioning?!), but other than that, it was a great trip. My group worked with this little drug prevention youth organization that was pretty together, and they were expanding their marketing plan. I have some Spanish skills, so I did some interviews with kids at the organization and I loved that. I also got to speak with the executive director, who was really impressive. The country obviously needs a lot of work, and people like her are doing that. Glad I got to help.
I did an internship with FSD as a career transition--I'd been out of school for bout five years and was working as a teacher, but I was getting burned out. When I started at their office, I was struck by how focused everyone was and by how present the idea of sustainability was in the everyday work.
I worked mainly with the organization's donors, helping them get connected with projects that were important to them, and also reaching out to find new donors. Because the admin staff is pretty small, it was easy for me to get to know everyone pretty well and to have in-depth conversations with people in every department.
Looking back I wish I'd put a little more effort into exploring the India projects than I did, but other than that, it was a really good and useful experience for me.
I began working with the Foundation for Sustainable Development in May after learning about their unique approach to development. Having spent years working in the field of development it is refreshing to find an organization that stays true to its mission and really works with communities.
I have been able to travel to Nicaragua with FSD and I have seen the high impact programs in the field and I can honestly say that FSD is truly helping communities facilitate change from within. I would highly recommend FSD to any friends, family, or colleagues.
I first heard about FSD from my fellow students when I started my MA program in SF and, after doing some research, I knew I wanted to get involved in the organization’s work.
FSD has been among the pioneers of people-centered development approach, and, after interning with the organization for only one semester, I was really able to see how this approach translates in everything FSD does, from planning programs to making funding decisions. FSD SF staff heavily relies on the perspectives and needs of their community partners who work together with FSD site teams to identify meaningful and lasting solutions that work. The organization has networks and relationships in place that allow them to identify effective projects and ensure that their grant funds benefit those who understand the challenges and can implement solutions.
FSD’s approach is aimed at mobilizing local resources and supporting local knowledge and leadership which encourages sustainable community development, creating a more just and sustainable future for people around the world, one community at a time.
I had a wonderful experience as an FSD Intern through GESI in Updaipur, India 2011. The experience completely prepared me for the professional world that was to come - I continued doing community development work through college and have focused on civic engagement and community development work in my professional life after graduating. Because of the experience with FSD, I was prepared for both the theoretical framework and reality of this field.
I was a volunteer with FSD in 2007 at the Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua site and international program coordinator there from 2010-2011. Both experiences confirmed that FSD stands out among its peers by providing interns and volunteers with the best international development experience possible that combines practical skill development with cultural immersion.
As an intern in 2007 I had the opportunity to develop a gang prevention program at a local school in Ciudad Sandino. My host family was fantastic, and my Spanish improved immensely. On the weekends I enjoyed traveling around Nicaragua with other volunteers and local friends.
Returning to Nicaragua in 2010-2011 as program coordinator, I found that FSD supports its staff just as much as its interns. The local offices are well equipped to handle all important logistics for the volunteers so the volunteers can focus on developing their skills and positively impacting their host communities. All of my co-workers exhibited only the highest degree of professionalism and dedication to sustainable development.
During the Summer of 2011, I participated in the Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI), a Group Engage partnership model between the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Northwestern University. GESI is a unique credit-bearing program that combines intensive asset-based community development coursework with 8-10 weeks of team-based fieldwork with one of FSD’s community partners in Bolivia, India, Nicaragua, and Uganda. As a FSD/GESI intern, I spent the summer at one of Udaipur’s oldest and largest NGOs, Seva Mandir. While Seva Mandir’s commitment to “democratic and participatory development” manifests in myriad program areas including education, women’s empowerment, youth development and social enterprise, I worked in Seva Mandir’s health department. Specifically, my GESI team of three worked alongside Seva Mandir’s Community Care Center (CCC), a HIV/AIDS clinic providing clinical and counseling support to local patients.
During my 10 weeks, I had the privilege of first, interviewing clinic patients to better understand their individual and collective barriers to access, regimented care, and stable health, and second, collaborating with Seva Mandir staff to develop and pilot test a small-scale two-part programmatic response consisting of a patient-driven pillbox/chart system and new education materials for clinicians. While parts of our project inevitably failed, my time with Seva Mandir taught me that equally important to the goals of development are the methods by which they are realized – that the process matters. Through the GESI program, the Foundation for Sustainable Development and Northwestern University opened my eyes to the value, intention and necessity of asset-based community development and ignited a life-long commitment to thoughtful international development work.
I have been interning at FSD headquarters in San Francisco for the past three months, and I really enjoyed it. By interning at FSD I had the opportunity to see how an organization works, how the projects are carried out and how to support and implement long-lasting and sustainable projects that the community-identified needs and wants. Also I could bring new ideas to FSD and develop myself as a professional and contribute to the organization development and, as a consequence, to all the projects that are being carried out by FSD. Great organization, great job, great people.
I served as an intern in a health post in Nancimi, Tola, Nicaragua, where I facilitated preventative health trainings on the most prominent health issues plaguing the community. While the community benefited from the trainings, I gained a great deal from the internship as well. Through writing a grant and implementing my project, I developed writing, communication, and public health skills applicable to my future career in medicine and global health. Furthermore, FSD ingrained the ideals of sustainability in a global setting in my head, for that I am grateful. I am also grateful for the people that I met. The other interns in Nancimi acted as a sounding board, therapists, and a source of inspiration, and the FSD coordinators challenged and motivated me throughout the nine weeks. I continue to keep in touch with both the other interns and the coordinators, as well as the community members in Nancimi. It makes me smile to realize that I always have a "home" with my FSD family back in Nicaragua. Although challenging at times, I 100% recommend a FSD internship to individuals who aspire to pursue an international, hands-on experience.