Emily Daher, a 2011 graduate from Calvin’s International Development Studies (IDS) program, encourages current IDS students to “get out.”
“Get out into the world both physically and mentally,” Emily says. “Participate in off-campus programs, service learning opportunities, and internships. Attend lectures, read non-required books, and talk to others in the field of development.”
As a student, Emily took advantage of opportunities to get out into the world. She participated in multiple off-campus programs, including a semester in Ghana, a semester in Washington, D.C., and an interim in Kenya. In Ghana, Emily conducted independent research on the role of the foreigner in development, and in Washington, D.C., she was a field advocacy intern at ONE.
In addition to her off-campus experiences, Emily also had the opportunity to serve as a McGregor Research Fellow, working alongside Professor Roland Hoksbergen as he researched, wrote and edited his book Serving God Globally. Emily also participated in the Comenius Scholars program through the career development office, completing an internship with Women at Risk International.
Whether on- or off-campus, these activities helped Emily gain the experience she needed to get into development work. “These experiences opened my eyes to the vast possibilities in the field of international development from research and policy to community mobilization and advocacy. Through these opportunities I was able to better understand not only the field but my own interests, abilities and potentials.”
Emily has continued to use her gifts even beyond her time as a Calvin student. After graduation, she spent a year serving in Ghana as the Mentoring Coordinator and Business Development Intern at Hopeline Institute through Partners Worldwide. After a few months at home, Emily moved back to Ghana to begin a new position in the area of rural community development.
Currently, Emily is the Community Relations Coordinator for Africa Atlantic Holdings Ltd., which is a commercial farm venture in Ghana’s Eastern region. In this role, she organizes and implements the company’s social impact and community development initiatives, ranging from agriculture to health to education.
In her work with Africa Atlantic Holdings, Emily builds, maintains and deepens relationships between the company and community, and she credits her Calvin education for teaching her the value of interpersonal connections.
“Calvin taught me the importance of relationships and community. Whether it was Residence Life or classroom learning, I left Calvin with a deep value for quality and intentional relationships,” says Emily. “My capacity to build relationships has allowed me to connect and partner with individuals and communities around a common goal. This would not have been possible if I had not learned to truly discover and value the gift of human connectedness while a student at Calvin.”
Emily urges IDS students to keep relationships at the forefront when getting out into the world: “Keep in mind and heart that relationships matter. Whether you’re doing research or implementing field programs, there are people behind the statistics, labels, projects and programs, and we need not to forget to first and foremost love."
Written by Meredith Segur, posted August 2013