Our names are Abbey Lin and Taelyr Keeley. We are currently in our final year of the Bachelor of Arts in Global Development Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. Before the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the globe, we applied and were accepted to participate in the East Africa Internship Program. We weren’t sure which country or organization we would be working with, but we knew we would be given the opportunity to travel and experience another culture while working abroad. However, all our plans changed in March when the university immediately placed all classes online and the Canadian Government closed our borders and ordered all citizens to return home from abroad. This made us very anxious as we needed to complete an internship this summer to meet our requirements for graduation. Despite this setback, Dr. Cherie Enns, MCIP, RPP, Associate Professor of the School of Land Use and Environmental Change and Global Development Studies Departments at the University of the Fraser Valley and QES INTERNSHIP Program/Eminus Academy approached us with an opportunity to complete a virtual internship with The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). https://www.cifor.org/

Figure 1: We met with the East Africa Interns that just returned from their internship in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Abbey and I immediately accepted the offer without fully understanding the logistics of a virtual internship. Our internship began on May 4th. We had our first meeting with our supervisor Rubina Haroon, who is the Team Leader of the Resource Mobilization and Partnerships department with CIFOR. Our meeting was held at 10:00PM PST as it was 8:00AM the next day in Nairobi. Being part of a virtual internship has its setbacks with different time zones and the ability to focus on work amongst the distractions of being at home. However, this virtual internship has allowed us to work in more countries than ever before! Since everything has moved to an online format, we are connected to not just one but all of CIFOR’s 51 bases. We are currently working with scientists in their Indonesia and Kenya locations to help them obtain funding for their research. We are also consulting CIFOR on the ever-changing donor landscape Post-COVID-19. We are very grateful for this extremely rare opportunity for a virtual internship during times like these.

Figure 1: We attended a webinar hosted by Donor Tracker: https://donortracker.org/

Attending the seminar and familiarizing ourselves with Donor Tracker really enabled us to fully understand just how large the donor landscape is. It will also be very valuable to track the policy changes that countries and multilateral organizations will make in order to combat the effects of COVID-19 on the international economy, especially current or new development programs. We believe that this partnership between UFV and CIFOR will be rich in experience and education, not only for us but for future Interns!

Stay tuned for more blog posts by us this Summer! Stay well and stay safe. https://ufveastafricainternships.com/about/

Abbey Lin

Taelyr Keeley

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