From Thailand to Tanzania: CIEE alums improve communities across the globe with Mama Hope
CIEE Alumni Katie Hale and Katrina Boratko both participated in the CIEE Teach Abroad program in Thailand, and are now pursuing their passion for international development and improving communities in need at San Francisco-based nonprofit Mama Hope. By partnering with local organizations in Africa, Mama Hope works to fund the completion of schools, health clinics, children’s centers, clean water systems, and food security project. Katie and Katrina both credit their CIEE experience as a significant factor in their current career paths.
Katrina’s interest in international development work began after her study abroad semester with CIEE in Senegal in 2008. After her semester abroad, she changed her major from communications to political science; after graduation, she participated in CIEE’s Teach Abroad program in Thailand. Upon returning to her home in San Francisco, Katrina began interning at Mama Hope. She eventually became one of the first fellows in their Global Advocate Fellowship, and now works full-time as their communications manager.
“The cultural immersion experience of being in a small village in Thailand for a year through CIEE really helped me to be effective on the ground in Africa."
“It seemed like a good way to connect the experience I had working in Thailand with where I wanted to go in my international development career,” says Katrina. “The cultural immersion experience of being in a small village in Thailand for a year through CIEE really helped me to be effective on the ground in Africa. I had the experience of having to develop patience… those skills really transferred to everything I was doing in Africa.”
Katie also taught in Thailand through CIEE. She had planned for a six-month placement, but ended up deciding to stay at her school in Thailand for three years. She and Katrina briefly met during a CIEE orientation event in Thailand. Near the end of her last semester in Thailand, Katie noticed a post on Katrina’s blog about the Global Advocate Fellowship with Mama Hope. “I thought, this is something I really want to be a part of,” says Katie. “I really saw the relationship that Mama Hope built with their partner communities, which is based on sharing resources and accessing all of those resources equally.” Katie connected with Katrina via Facebook, and a week after her return to the United States, she found herself in San Francisco for Mama Hope’s fellowship training. Like Katrina, Katie believes that her CIEE experience was invaluable in preparing her for an international development career. “I shared a lot of my experience that I had in Thailand – building capacity within the school, trying to improve teacher retention, and improving the overall learning and teaching environment. CIEE and my year in Thailand really helped me with that.”
“I shared a lot of my experience that I had in Thailand – building capacity within the school, trying to improve teacher retention, and improving the overall learning and teaching environment."
Both Katie and Katrina participated in Mama Hope’s Global Advocate Fellowship, which is 9-month training program built around three phases: US training and funding, in-country field experience and project execution, and US program management and evaluation. ‘Advocates’ receive training in fundraising, public speaking, human-centered design, and more. “We’re really flexible and so a huge part of the program is that people learn what they want to learn. So, I was able to get a lot of really good public speaking skills, fundraising, and event planning, which is a huge part of my job now,” says Katie, who now works as the Global Advocate Program Coordinator at Mama Hope. During her fellowship, Katie helped build a solar computer lab and a classroom in Moshi, Tanzania. Katrina worked on laying the foundation for a children’s rescue center in Kisumu, Kenya during her nine months as a Global Advocate Fellow. Global Advocates finish their fellowship with a capstone project, and they receive support and training from Mama Hope. “I think there’s such a variety of skills that you gain from doing this program… what you’re actually getting out of it is so much more than you could ever imagine.”
Interested in becoming a Global Advocate for Mama Hope? The next application deadline is January 22nd, 2015. Apply on their website, mamahope.org.