September 22 2010
Daniel Bordeleau BSILR ’12: A multidisciplinary approach to the workplace and global health
This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to travel 8,000 miles away from campus and put my ILR education into practice in East Africa. As a double minor in Global Health and Inequality Studies, I am a firm believer in a multidisciplinary education of overarching themes related to social justice. I am very interested in the impact of global health issues—specifically HIV/AIDS and the social stigmas it brings to certain races, genders, and ethnic communities—and how such health issues affect the workplace. This summer I traveled to northern Tanzania and lived in the city of Moshi, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I originally had plans to intern at a small microfinance organization focusing on gender inequalities within the community, but after working with the Global Health Program I was given an excellent opportunity to work at a unique organization called Mkuki.
Mkuki is a vocational training and education center for orphans and vulnerable children who have been affected or impacted by HIV/AIDS. The organization gives these children the financial ability to attend school, as well as the option to partake in vocational training classes in the areas of biofluid mechanics, motor vehicle mechanics, and tailoring. The organization was searching for help with organizational development and establishing company literature, as a means to be able to gain international donor support and grow the organization. So I joined the close-knit Mkuki team and was able to apply my ILR education in a way that helped the organization meet its organizational goals, and the experience also allowed me to understand life at an East African NGO.
One of the first tasks I undertook for Mkuki was to establish an electronic pilot program for accounting documentation. I sifted through piles of accounting books and papers and created an electronic accounting system, which automatically calculated monthly and annual revenues and expenditures through the use of macros linked to the organization’s bank balance. After launching this Microsoft Excel pilot program, I dove into performing job analyses. I was able to compile job descriptions, establish a company mission statement, and assemble important information that was central to understanding the organization from an international level. I was able to do a lot of writing for the company that helped to put a face on the core of what they do. I pioneered the Mkuki Organization Report 2010.
My organization profile is currently being used to help launch an official company website to put Mkuki on the web. Mkuki hopes to attract international support so the company can expand its HIV/AIDS work beyond the Kilimanjaro Region and to other parts of Northern Tanzania.
Outside of Mkuki, I fostered the most incredible friendships with my host family and other members of the community. Through networking with local Tanzanians, I was able to go on low-cost weekend excursions in my free time, including a partial climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, an opportunity to snorkel in the Indian Ocean, and the ability to go on various safaris throughout Northern Tanzania. I also was able to do a good amount of creative writing and poetry while I was in Tanzania, and feel as if I came closer to understanding more about myself and my future aspirations.
Bottom line—I had an incredible academic, cultural, and personal experience abroad that I wouldn’t have gone through with had it not been for funding from ILR International Programs. The International Experience Grant provided me with a completely life-changing experience, and for that I am a strong advocate and entirely grateful.