For several years, SFF sponsored youth internships to Indonesia, Nigeria, Ecuador, and Panama. While we are no longer sponsoring youth internships, we are proud of the work that our interns performed and have provided some information below about the program.
International Youth Internships in Community Forestry
SFF's international youth internships provide young Canadian university graduates an experience of a lifetime working with NGOs and communities on community forestry related projects in other parts of the world. It is an opportunity for youth to learn and apply practical skills in their field, and to share experiences with rural communities in other parts of the world. Inevitably they are challenged, inspired and humbled by working side-by-side with NGO workers and villagers who face severe economic and environmental problems with dedication, perseverance, resourcefulness, and even joyfulness.
The program is also a great way for SFF to build and maintain our connections to community forestry organizations in other nations and our awareness of community forestry issues around the world.
Interns upon their return from Nigeria, Ecuador and Panama. July 2003.
In our 2002/2003 program, ten interns worked for 6-7 months abroad: five in Nigeria, three in Ecuador, and two in Panama. They were matched with different projects suiting their background and interests. They worked in ethnobotany, ecotourism planning, mapping for land rights, analog forestry, medicinal plant cultivation, and participatory mapping and land-use planning.
Seven of the ten interns began by working for a month in B.C.-two with the Harrop-Procter Community Forest, three with Silva, one with the Winlaw Watershed Committee, and one in Smithers with One Sky. Working in rural communities in Canada provides the interns, most of whom are recent university graduates, with valuable insights and stories that can be shared with their overseas hosts.
By January 2003, all interns were working internationally with a variety of non-government organizations, many in rural or remote communities.
Youth Interns from 2001-2002 were posted in Indonesia and Nigeria.
Of the five interns in the 2001/2002 program, three were very disappointed to have to return home from Indonesia for security reasons after the events of 9/11. In their two months there they had just a glimpse of the interesting work being done in Indonesia. They completed their internship in Vancouver and Victoria assisting their Indonesian host organizations with fund-raising as well as working with the International Network of Forests and Communities and the Youth Millenium project.
Kelly Rodenkirchen and Sheri Lim returned in April 2002 from working 6 months in Nigeria. Kelly worked with the Nature Conservation Foundation at the Becheve Nature Reserve on the Obudu Plateau. She coordinated the work of the park wardens, conducted training workshops on mapping skills, and mapped forest cover and hydrology of the Reserve. Sheri assisted the NGO Coalition for the Environment in a process of restructuring and organizational development including development of a 5 year strategic plan and work plans for two new community forestry projects.
Silva’s first five interns spent 8 months in Indonesia in 2000-2001.
Our first five intrepid interns returned in April 2001 after 8 months working on community forestry projects in Indonesia. Upon arrival on B.C. soil, they met together for a debriefing in Whistler. It was a much appreciated few days to reconnect with each other, share stories with friends who had been through similar experiences, talk about the challenges of reverse culture shock, and look ahead to the next steps in their careers.
The internships were a fabulous learning experience both for the interns and for the host organizations. There were challenges and frustrations in cross-cultural communications, and aligning the expectations of hosts and interns. These challenges were resolved and were probably the most significant part of the learning. The interns also gained a first-hand view of forest and community issues in Indonesia, and this has given them a new perspective from which to reflect on community forests in B.C.