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.
I am a Programs Intern with FSD and my experience has been great. During my time with the organization, I have greatly learned about their method of International Development; Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). It is a form of development which is community inclusive and attempts to use indigenous resources to solve local problems. In addition, the communication channels within FSD is very comprehensive and accessible as they strive to create a conducive atmosphere for their International Volunteers/Interns and their host family. Overall the Foundation for Sustainable Development is a great organization and highly recommend it to future volunteers looking to go abroad.
Foundation for Sustainable Development is a passionate organization that puts the needs of its beneficiaries first. Utilizing a revolutionary sustainable approach to development, FSD implements ground-up initiatives that are most importantly guided by the voice of the individuals who possess the local knowledge to know which solutions work best. While a localized and close knit organization themselves, FSD's outreach has successfully extended around the globe; across various states, countries, languages, and cultures. It has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside the passionate individuals of FSD that tirelessly endeavor to instill a true change in this world.
FSD has been recognized as a model in books, case studies, and seminars for how to help students and volunteers work in an ethical way in developing countries. However, my expertise is not in international exchange and learning but rather in international development. As a development professional what I really appreciate about this organization is the way that it builds community members' self confidence and capabilities to change their own circumstances and make the community what they want it to be. In other words, it works deliberately to break down attitudes that someone from the outside needs to bring solutions and instead builds up the community to bring their own solutions. When the community is able to mobilize and build its own resources, even small contributions of time and money can have a big impact. Coming back to the international exchange angle, I think it is fantastic that students and would-be donors get to be a part of that process and gain appreciation of the capabilities of local people. It is my hope that those who have experienced the FSD model as students will use that perspective to come up with new approaches to supporting community 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!).
The Foundation for Sustainable Development is a life-changing organization that allows participants to be involved in community-based projects while partnering with development organizations around the world. Prioritizing sustainability along with key development interventions allows for positive and truly reciprocal experiences on both sides. I would highly recommend this organization to my colleagues, friends, and family without any hesitation, and believe it is a gem among the Bay Area nonprofits.
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!
This organization is a standard bearer in the non profit world. We are VERY pleased to be a part of it.