Emily Daher '11
Emily graduated from Calvin in 2011 with a double major in IDS and political science. She now works for the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, a school and program in Accra, Ghana that provides training, mentoring and investment to Ghanaian technology entrepreneurs.
What sparked your interest in international development?
I grew up in a cross-cultural family and have always been interested in global issues. However, at Calvin I became more aware of global challenges. With new awareness of these challenges and our global connectedness, I acquired an interest in being a part of global solutions. I started by participating in an interim in Kenya and after that experience I knew that international development was a field I wanted to further explore. After a semester working for an international development advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. and then a semester studying in Ghana, I knew that this was a field I wanted to fully pursue.
Describe your path since graduation.
After graduation I spent a year serving as a Mentoring Coordinator and Business Development trainer for a Ghanaian NGO called Hopeline Institute. I served with Hopeline Institute through Partners Worldwide’s international internship program. Then, I spent a few months at home reflecting and determining my next steps. During that time, I decided that I wanted to continue working in the field of development in Ghana and started exploring other opportunities.
In January 2013 I began working as the Community Relations Coordinator for an agricultural development company in the Eastern Region of Ghana. In that position I was tasked with building relationships with the communities surrounding the company’s operations and implementing various community engagement and development initiatives in the areas of agriculture, health and education.
What are your current activities?
As of August 2014, I will be the Communications Teaching Fellow at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a role that involves entrepreneurial-based training and mentoring work.
What is your most memorable experience in the field?
Last year I worked alongside two communities and a local primary school to implement a community farm. It was a challenging project but there were little successes that carried us through. One of the most memorable moments of that project was the day the primary students harvested the carrots. They had never grown carrots before and were unsure what they would discover under the soil. They excitedly pulled at the green leaves, digging and twisting eager to see the carrot. I distinctly remember the great joy and excitement of the children as they would pull out a carrot carefully inspecting its shape, color and size and comparing it with the other carrots. The children had waited many months to see the fruit of their labor. They watered and weeded in great anticipation. It was a deeply special moment when the children finally discovered the fruit of their labor. They realized that they made that carrot grow. At their young age they grew a crop that not even their parents were growing on their family farms.
How had your faith influenced your work in development?
My faith is why I am in the field of development and what keeps me going each and every day. If I didn’t have my faith I could not be in this field. My faith lays the groundwork for my daily decisions and guides my development values and approach. My faith helps me engage with communities from a point of solidarity and encouragement, understanding that we are all on this journey together. There is learning to be had and I am first and foremost called to love above all else.
What is your favorite aspect of Calvin and what do you wish you would have done differently while attending Calvin?
I greatly valued all the opportunities Calvin offers students to holistically engage their studies and passions outside the classroom through service learning, lectures, conferences, and student organizations and study abroad programs. I actively participated in these activities as a junior and senior but if I could do something differently I would have chosen to be more involved with some of these opportunities as a freshman and sophomore.
What advice would you give to current IDS students?
My advice is always be willing to listen, learn and love. These three skills are vitally important in the field of development and life in general. When you enter a new situation, especially if you are working directly with people, take time to listen and be willing to learn. Remember if you have all the knowledge and all the skills but you aren’t able to love, then you indeed have nothing (1 Cor 13:2).