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SFU Co-op Student

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Picture of Adam Kingsmith, an SFU student interviewed by the author about his internship in El Salvador.
Developing work makes you resourceful, you have to work with what you have.

Everyday, the media informs us of new global issues arising in different parts of the world. We think about how troubling the situation is for a little while and then go on with the rest of our day. In most cases, this is where the story ends.

As students, we have an opportunity to pick up the story and take part in brainstorming ideas, implementing changes, making improvements, and making an impact. How? By going on an exchange.

Last spring, SFU student Adam Kingsmith took the chance to travel to El Salvador. During his international internship, Kingsmith worked with C-INNOVA to restructure one of the county’s most important industries, the balsam crop.

“My job was to use all the resources at my disposal to discover why balsam yields are continuing to decrease every year. The local Salvadorian farmers and exporters are not making any money off of the price and demand increases.”

His internship was made possible through AIESEC— the largest student-run organization in the world, which regularly offers internship opportunities across the globe ranging from 6 weeks to 18 months. Kingsmith’s developmental work was one of four different types of internships offered by AIESEC: Management, Technical, Educational, and Developmental.

“Developing work makes you resourceful, you have to work with what you have because the cavalry is never really over the next ridge, it makes you savvy because you have to be careful who to trust and managed to situations that you put yourself in, and it makes you outgoing because you are the one on the ground working with the little guys in order to solve the big problems.”

Since returning, his research has been used as the foundation for a massive fundraising initiative. As a result, fifty balsam-harvesting communities now have the means necessary to sustainably increase their annual yields.

To hear more life-changing stories from exchange participants like Kingsmith and learn about how you can make a difference by going abroad, attend AIESEC SFU’s Exchange Night happening on Tuesday October 4th, 2011 at 5:30pm in MBC 2290.

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