Humphrey Fellows Service Learning Presentations
Each year a selected set of fellows from the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program attend the University of Montana’s English Language Institute (ELI) for intensive English language training before they proceed to other institutions in the United States.
A key component of the fellows’ time at the University of Montana, and of the greater Humphrey Fellowship, is a service-learning project. The scholars committed a minimum of fifteen hours to volunteering at numerous organizations across the Missoula community, ranging from the Missoula Public Library’s Makerspace to Hospice of Missoula. Each scholar was involved with an organization that interested them and often related to the work they do in their respective home countries. Following a conclusion of their service learning work, the Humphrey’s scholars presented posters detailing their volunteering endeavors and spoke with presentation attendees about their experiences.
Below are a few examples of the volunteering efforts that the Humphrey scholars undertook in the Missoula community:
Coumba Ndokh Ndiaye of Senegal spent her time working at the Missoula Food Bank. She was surprised to learn that even places as prosperous as the United States still experience poverty and need. Coumba was inspired by the way that the relief effort was organized and the generosity of time and money that people committed to feeding others. She hopes to implement a similar system in her home country. Hadiza Gagara Dagah of Niger also spent time at the Missoula Food Bank and was inspired by the organization’s commitment to maintaining people’s dignity by providing families and individuals with the opportunity to “shop” as they would in a normal grocery store. Hadiza also hopes to create a similar styled food bank in her home country and, motivated by her experience in Missoula, she plans to spend time working in food banks in Boston, where she will spend the remainder of her fellowship.
David Luna of Colombia volunteered at Free Cycles Missoula, a community bike shop. David, like other Free Cycles volunteers, was able to build a bike for himself from donated parts after he completed training and volunteer hours. David was interested in Free Cycles because his home city of Bogota has one of the largest bike trail systems in the country. He enjoyed learning more about how to take care of and build bikes and he felt that Bogota could greatly benefit from a similar program that encouraged people to repurpose old bike parts into new, functioning bikes.
Luisa Trujillo Córdova of Ecuador spent her time volunteering at Garden City Harvest, an organization that focuses on creating sustainable community gardens for people with low incomes and offers education about ecologically conscious agriculture. Luisa was particularly inspired by the school farm projects that taught children and their parents about healthy food. She felt that a similar program could be beneficial in the Amazon, where farmers often sell their most nutritious foods and buy less healthy alternatives to feed their families. She feels that a community based education approach could help improve the health and well-being of many Ecuadorian people.
Lal Bahadur Kunwar, who works in the health industry in his home country of Nepal, spent time volunteering with the Rural Institute, an organization that provides support and services to rural people with disabilities. Lal was intrigued by the organization and their goal of distributing resources to people in need, especially people with disabilities who are normally hidden or pushed aside by Nepalese society. He wants to create a similar program in Nepal and work to reduce the stigma of disabilities at the same time. He is planning to continue his work with a Rural Institute partner organization when he continues his fellowship in Richmond, VA.
The poster presentation session was one of the concluding components of the Humphrey fellows’ time at the University of Montana. ELI and the whole Global Engagement community will miss the Humphrey fellows’ presence and wish them the best as they move on to their fellowships in institutions across the country.