Tag Archives: IPED

Recap and Response: New Approaches to International Food Security: On-the-ground Perspectives

By: Hannah Fort ‘20

International food security was one of the key issues addressed at the Reduce World Hunger: Pope Francis’ Call for New Approaches conference on September 28 th , 2018. Bill O’Keefe, the Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), addressed this topic directly. He believes that integrated approaches should be the future of how organizations look at food security; multi-sectoral, multi-year programs are most needed but current programs are not set up to provide this.

Instead of working with households one-by-one, CRS has developed an Integral Human Development Framework which they hope to use to influence the systems and structures that households operate within. These systems and structures need to function in a way that allows people to thrive. CRS focuses on the most vulnerable people to help them find a pathway to prosperity. The issue threatening the food security of poor families and farmers worldwide is climate change, which needs long-term,
integrated methods. While emergency assistance is a part of what CRS does, they are looking for new approaches such as direct cash transfers in refugee camps, which they believe will help preserve human dignity.

Mr. O’Keefe giving on-the-ground perspectives in approaching the problem of food insecurity

Addressing climate change as a driver of food insecurity is imperative. Looking at the problem on a country-by-country basis has allowed CRS to implement programs that are geared towards the culture and the people. In Malawi, one of the world’s most densely populated and underdeveloped countries, CRS has implemented the Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement (WALA) program. They have had around 250,000 participants so far and seen a 65% increase in organic growing matter. The El
Salvador Cacao Alliance has helped farmers recover from the loss of their coffee crop due to disease and insects sped along by climate change. Working together with the Salvadoran government on horticulture policy, 6,500 farmers are looking to plant the traditional cacao trees across 16,000 acres of land. Speaking on the sustainability of these projects, Bill O’Keefe says that the goal is to, “build a  capacity for support not dependent on us.”

Bill O’Keefe also offered his thoughts on impact investing. Taking private capital and investing it towards the world’s poorest, especially in health, youth employment, migrants/refugees, and climate change can make a big difference. Countries need to work together on these issues in an integrated way or we will never get ahead of the problem and always be chasing solutions.

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2018 Summer Internship Series: Donovan Hotz in Brazil

by: Donovan Hotz ’19

I spent the summer studying Portuguese in São Paulo, Brazil at the Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP), a small private university in the center of the city. I was able to fund my tuition, travel, and living arrangements through IPED’s Language Immersion Study Award (LISA). I spent seven weeks studying at the University and living with a wonderful host family nearby. Taking classes during the day and spending the evenings with my host family discussing the news and watching telenovelas was a great experience and a fantastic opportunity to improve my spoken and written Portuguese. The program allowed me to advance fairly quickly having not had any spoken Portuguese experience and having only relied on self-study prior to the program. By the end of the program, I was able to achieve an intermediate level in spoken and written Portuguese.

The program consisted of 4-hour classes 5 days a week with practice in reading, writing, conversation, and prepared presentations. One class per week consisted of a cultural day in which we were able to practice the language outside of a formal class setting while doing activities like scavenger hunts in the neighborhood and going to museums. Aside from providing the opportunity to use the language in various contexts, the cultural days were also great conversation starters with my host family which consisted of my host parents, host sister, and four Brazilian college students that also lived with the family during the semester. My host family not only gave me tons of practice with the language, but also allowed me to learn about Brazilian society from different perspectives.

Donovan with his host family, and three Brazilian college students

My Portuguese language skills will further my career interests in economic development in Latin America. After having served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay I had developed strong skills in Spanish but wanted to pursue Portuguese as well given Brazil’s economic prominence in the region. The funding from LISA turned out to be the perfect opportunity for me to pursue this goal.


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2018 Summer Internship Series: Greg Fischer, Elly Reserva, and Amr Ali’s French Language Immersion

IPED Arrupe Fellow Greg Fischer and Language Immersion Study Award Recipients Elly Reserva and Amr Ali all spent their Summer 2018 in different parts of France for an intensive study of the French language and culture. The three IPED students studied through Alliance Française, an international organization that aims to promote French language and culture around the world. The institution offers daily three-hour intensive language courses, complemented with various cultural activities and immersive experiences.

Greg Fischer in Grenoble

Greg’s class in Grenoble consisted of 7 to 10 students from all over the world (US, Brazil, Australia, Switzerland, Colombia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Venezuela). The instructor brought years of experience from teaching French in East Asia through Alliance Française. Greg arranged a long-term stay through AirBnB which allowed him to use his host to practice his French and continue his immersive experience away from the classroom.

Greg with his classmates


Greg said “A long term immersive experience such as studying French requires you to recreate your daily routine in a different language. That’s invaluable. Having to rely on the language you’re learning enables a greater internalization of the material being used in class.” The diversity of France was on full display in the neighborhood where he stayed; he lived in a neighborhood with a high population of West Africa immigrants and passed through the Tunisia and Algerian stores in order to get to class every day.

Greg and Amr in France

The timing of studying French was also ideal for Greg who was able to watch much of the 2018 World Cup outside of the classroom. It was always easy to find a large public place with a large crowd to watch a French National team game en route to their World Cup victory (unfortunately Greg left France before the final). As an avid fan, coach, and player, the World Cup served as an easy way to bond with other French fans.

Learning French with IPED was a worthwhile experience for Greg. The summer immersion experience with Alliance Française offers a wealth of learning experiences for all beginners, intermediate, and advanced students. The courses are intensive and the opportunities for immersion are boundless. While learning a new language is not a simple or easy process, Greg feels that he got the strong foundation he needed to build upon his language skills.

Elly Reserva in Lyon

Elly’s choice to study French in Lyon was influenced in part by its identity of being France’s gastronomy capital and its reputation of being a student-friendly city. The size of the city itself was perfect for her too, saying that “it was not too huge that it overwhelmed someone like me who’s a first-timer in France, and not too small that I always had something to do after class to continue the French immersion—most of which involved exploring the different Bouchon Lyonnais (restaurants that serve the traditional Lyon cuisine).”

At a bouchon lyonnais, about to feast on Andouillettes de Lyon

Like Greg, Elly’s class was small, composed of students from different parts of the world with different backgrounds and motivations for studying French. The fact that the classes are small allowed them to have enough time to actively participate in class. Alliance Française conducts a placement test before courses start to match and group students at the right level. However, the school organizes various activities so that students from various levels get to interact with one another.

On their last day, the French professor brought cheese to class, while each student brought little somethings from their country for a mini feast!

Elly stayed with a host family throughout her stay in Lyon. Her host family complemented her learning in school by including her in the day-to-day family activities, giving her a closer look to the French traditions and customs. “I couldn’t have asked for a better host family. They made my study of French successful, and my stay in Lyon truly memorable. I still exchange e-mails with them regularly, and I hope I can keep it up.”

Elly’s farewell dinner prepared by her host family. Au revoir!

After the summer language immersion, Elly intends to continue learning French to prepare her for a career in International Development.

At the Ancient Roman Theatres with an overlooking view of Lyon

Amr Ali in Toulouse

Amr’s decision for applying to LISA was influenced by his passion to learn new languages, in addition to the importance of speaking French in pursuing a career in International Development. Located at the south of France, Toulouse, was a perfect choice for Amr. The city is one of France’s most historic cities counts two of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s a very small and walkable city with elegant buildings and unique architecture. Most of the buildings are made of pinkish bricks, which earned it the name “La Ville Rose” (The Pink City). Amr said, “Toulouse offered a very friendly atmosphere to learn a new language. Although it was a small city, I was able to do different activities which helped me to practice French. Also, the location was great and enabled me to explore different parts of France.”

Amr with his classmates

Like Greg and Elly, the class size was small (10-12 students) which ensured the interaction and participation in class. In addition, Alliance Francaise offered lots of activities such as cooking, singing, and visiting Toulouse’s landmarks such as the headquarter of Airbus. These activities ensured the continuance of the immersion nature and acquiring varied range of vocabularies in different aspects of life. Unlike Greg, Amr was lucky to celebrate France’s World Cup victory and to witness the country’s celebrations.

At the Airbus headquarter during Alliance Francaise trip

Alliance Francaise helped Amr to stay with a host family which helped him to practice French and continue the immersion nature. The LISA experience was remarkable for Amr; “I couldn’t ask for a better summer and learning experience,” he said.

At the Calanque de Marseille while exploring France with Greg

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Carlos Baeta ’18 at United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Office

By: Carlos Baeta ’18

During the Spring 2018 semester, I interned at the United Nation’s Department of Social Affairs within the E-Government division. During my internship, I was under the supervision of IPED alumnus and former Matteo Ricci scholar Deniz Susar ’08.

As an intern, my tasks included data analysis, research and report writing relating to some key deliverables within the office. The most salient project I worked on was the 2018 E-government survey, which will be published later this year. The E-government survey is important insofar as it highlights the importance of a government’s ability to leverage existing technologies to provide key services to their constituencies. Put differently, it analyzes how governments in the UN’s 193 member states use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT’s) to ensure sustainable development.

To this extent, it would be remiss of me not to mention how important IPED was in ensuring that I was able to maximize my experience at the United Nations. Firstly, the research methodology and analysis that I conducted on the E-government survey was similar to Dr. Schwalbenberg’s Foreign Aid and Development class. Given this, my experience working on the Fordham Francis Index (FFI) allowed me to understand the E-Government Development Index and its component parts from day one. Secondly, the Applied Econometrics class and my background in management consulting assisted in analyzing and presenting the data in creative ways. Finally, I believe that the extensive writing courses that we took as well as the robust feedback that we get from the professors improved my research and writing ability respectively.

In conclusion, I would recommend current and future IPED students to leverage Fordham’s proximity to the UN as a means of getting international experience that complements the coursework. Furthermore, I believe it prudent to use the IPED directory and alumni networks during the application process. Finally, it is important to acknowledge that IPED provides all of its students with the tools necessary for becoming economic researchers or public servants after graduation. The UNDESA is an opportunity that I would highly recommend to compliment your academic experience.

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