International Peace and Conflict Resolution student Stephanie Mansueto ’11 is studying in Uganda and will head soon to Sierra Leone for an internship. She knew spending a year abroad would help her to decide on her career plans.
Intrigued by Uganda after taking a course on capacity building in the East African Community, Mansueto wanted to witness the development of an EAC country firsthand. Though Arcadia’s College of Global Studies didn’t have a specified site in the country, she made her own contacts and found the ideal courses at Makerere University. In Fall 2010, she took four courses on gender studies.
In addition to her coursework, Mansueto conducted qualitative interviews with 13 microfinance organizations about their monitoring evaluation and impact assessments to see how they measure poverty alleviation among loan borrowers.
“I learned that the development sector has a lot of competing agendas and viewpoints, and while this can bring new ideas to the field, it also means resources are not being used efficiently and organizations that could be working together are not. It has made me realize how crowded the sector is and whether or not I want a career in development.”
While she’s wrapping up her studies in Uganda, Mansueto is far from wrapping up her investigation. She will be heading to Sierra Leone for the Spring 2011 semester to continue her research. There, she takes an internship at Heifer International, a non-profit that helps families to obtain a sustainable source of food and income.
“I think it’s important to go into these experiences with little expectation and to stay open to different viewpoints and perspectives, so I’m trying to refrain from idealizing my hopes and concerns,” she says. “With that said, given my interest and field research with impact assessments, I am curious to see how Heifer monitors and measures sustainability and impact, particularly with women since they are a focal point of Heifer’s development model. I’m also interested and anxious to hear the opinions and outlooks of Sierra Leoneans on the future of the country given its post-conflict situation.”