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.
This program is unlike anything I could have ever expected and I can't say how happy I am to have done it. It's had ups and downs and a lot of middle as well, but I wouldn't change any of those moments. Being thrown out of my comfort zone and creating a much wider, new comfort zone has been the best aspect of my experience. It's such a different lifestyle, but it's one at this point I would say I am comfortable with and enjoying greatly.
I have had more happy moments and moments where I am thinking about a ridiculous amount of things all at once here than I have before. I've joined a group of students with a different university mindset and seen how the way I think is different than the way their formal education has taught them to think. I have also been in the most culturally-diverse group I have ever spent this much time with, as a white-midwestern American. I've learned a lot in both active and passive ways.
I just love the organization and core values of FSD. This experience has greatly changed me, and it would not have been possible without the support and connections and knowledge I have received fro FSD. All I can say is that I wish I was in Kenya longer, I honestly could spend at least another 2 months here without wanting to return to America. I think the site team, host family, and single intern paired with a host organization made this internship very unique and more integrative (which I really appreciate!).
FSD gave me an amazing opportunity to learn more about international development, gain hands-on experience helping other people to improve their lives, and build the fundamental skills necessary to pursue a lifelong career in this field. I fully believe in the Asset-Based Community Development approach utilized by FSD as it promotes empowering people to improve their own lives with the resources available to them rather than prescribing the unsustainable "charitable handout" approach employed by so many other organizations. This FSD model is indeed a stepping stone to truly sustainable development.
I interned in the San Francisco office of FSD; it was an incredible experience through which I learned about the world of international development and sustainable practices, made a lot of new friends, and deepened my understanding about the grant review process. I would highly recommend doing anything through FSD; the Foundation is intentional in all it does and the funding it gives and will provide a well-rounded and fulfilling experience!
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 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.