photoreszedMy name is Miranda Meyer and I am currently attending the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, CA to pursue a Masters in International Education Management and Public Administration. Looking for the right cross between international education and development can be a little tricky, but in January 2017, I stumbled upon the perfect fit.

I was initially interested in working with RJF because they focused on Nicaragua, a country where I have previously lived and worked but my interest solidified when I learned how RJFs Fellowship Model works with rural communities to identify conflicts and work together to find sustainable solutions. My experience with RJF has been extremely rewarding both professionally and personally as RJF has made my Graduate Consultancy not only a chance to expand upon my resume but also to grow in my own personal development.

In Fall 2017, I along with a small team of classmates were engaged to develop a monitoring and evaluation program for RJFs Teacher Training Project. Through this process, it became clear that RJF not only cares about leadership development in Nicaragua, but also right here in the U.S. Not only did we receive an 'A' in the class, but the monitoring and evaluation project is being implemented in the upcoming months! It is satisfying to see work from the classroom be used in the "real" world. 

In January 2018, RJF sent me into the "field" (rural Nicaragua) where I conducted interviews withmiranda2 RJF Fellows and communities being served.  The goal was to see where RJF could improve upon its current Fellowship Model. I was given the freedom to learn while also assisting RJF with an important project. I heard community members talk about the positive impact RJF has had on their lives and had the privilege of working alongside RJFs Country Director, Henningston Hodgson, who makes the work in Nicaragua possible.

Fellows and community members spoke to the empowerment that they have felt since the Fellowship Model was brought to their community. Fellows are looked to as leaders who lead from within to promote development and empower his/her community members. As Fellows are neither religiously nor politically motivated, community members told me that Fellows are seen as a safe, neutral person with whom they can discuss conflicts that they feel need to be addressed within the community. One Fellow, who himself has only received a second-grade education, told me how more youth are attending school due to the success of the Teacher Training Project, which taught teachers classroom management skills such as engaging students in dialogue rather than using corporal punishment. When listening to other students about their internships, many talk about the distance between them and their employer and lack of autonomy. RJF gave me the tools needed for success, while also remembering that everything is a growing and learning process. We all have to start somewhere! I have learned more about my own professional strengths and areas for improvement with each new project.

Thank you to the Raechel and Jackie Foundation for its interest in supporting students and for taking the time to develop future leaders around the world.

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