Andrew Hill, ECON 492A

Andrew Hill

Year of Study During Placement: 4th

Placement Course and Year: ECON 492A, 2016

Faculty and Major: Arts, Economics

Placement Country: Kenya

Placement Organization: Little Rock Early Childhood Development Centre (LRECDC)

Andrew Hill participated in ECON 492D in 2016, travelling to Kenya to work with Little Rock Early Childhood Development Centre for twelve weeks. Andrew engaged with Little Rock’s income-generating activity (IGA) sector, creating a series of databases to help monitor and evaluate the school’s development activities. He quickly learned what an impact even a simple database could have: with an investment of new capital, workers in the IGA sector who were trained in database management could unlock the potential for increased productivity and higher wages. Andrew also used information from these databases to draft grant proposals to help the school continue to reach out to disabled and disadvantaged children in Nairobi, Africa’s largest informal settlement. Andrew’s studies and especially his knowledge of micro-economics were vital in his work.

Andrew also appreciated the value of living with a homestay. He describes his host family as welcoming and loving and notes that they encouraged him to engage more meaningfully with the Kibera community. Andrew’s host family not only taught him the local language but also invited him to weddings and other events and helped him adapt to the different cultural norms, a vital part of international experiences. Andrew’s placement challenged him to reflect on his identity and how it related to his race and his privilege. Properly defining this relationship was an ongoing struggle, but his experience and learning were ultimately enriched by taking time to reflect on the implications of his participation in his service learning placement.

“The striking similarities between our societies led me to re-evaluate the linkages between domestic policy and global citizenship.”

By living in Nairobi, Andrew began to see similarities between social issues in his host community and in his Canadian communities. He reflected on the Western notion of Africa as a place of poverty, disease, and violence and ultimately rejected it – these issues, he concluded, are often the manifestation of the very same institutional problems found globally. The striking similarities between Nairobi and Canada led Andrew to re-evaluate the linkages between domestic policy and global leadership. For those similarly interested in development issues and social justice who want to experience ISL to its fullest, Andrew recommends embracing uncertainty and demonstrating fluidity – he is sure this will lead to thought-provoking experiences.