How I ended up on a trip to South Africa


I did my undergraduate degree in International Studies, with a focus on race and ethnic relations. I guess you could say my interests lie more in developing countries, rather than developed ones.  I studied ethnic conflicts around the world, anthropology, sociology, history, politics and development. After my undergraduate degree, I ended up doing a journalism program at Concordia University, worked at a newspaper in Wainwright, and then worked as a development and communications intern with the Canadian Co-operative Association. My internships took me to Indonesia and Mongolia.

Following a brief stint in Vancouver, I ended up working at the newspaper in Grande Prairie, where I specialized in arts and agricultural journalism. After about a year and a half in Grande Prairie, a job in Edmonton opened up, and I jumped at the opportunity. I could work from home (hello pyjamas!), live in Edmonton and write about agriculture. So in 2008, I became a full-time agricultural journalist. I decided to take a Certificate in Food Security from Ryerson University, so I could learn more about urban agriculture and food security. The world is going to need people who can write about these topics, I reasoned.

Fast-forward a few years- In 2012, I ended up being selected for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Young Leaders Program. I never would have applied for this program if I hadn’t been encouraged to by my friend, Lisa Guenther. As part of the Young Leaders program, I attended a couple days of workshops with young agricultural journalists from all around the world and got to take part in the conference of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Sweden. I got to meet agricultural journalists from many different countries, and see farming operations in Sweden. It was a life-changing experience.

In 2014, I was accepted to Sage Hill Writing Experience, where I worked on a literary novel under the mentorship of Canadian author Lawrence Hill. (I am now half way through the fourth draft of this novel). Larry and I talked about his extensive development work in Africa. He’s been involved with Crossroads International and is now one of their honorary patrons

I had never been to Africa, but after talking with him, I started to feel some desire to experience it for myself. I knew that I didn’t want to go there as a tourist, and I wanted to travel there with some sort of organization. I started to look for opportunities. Eventually, I saw that the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists would be hosting a conference there. I applied for a bursary to attend and was selected!

Going to Africa feels like the convergence of so many of my different areas of interests- development, agriculture, food security, ethnic relations, journalism, and literature. I’m really looking forward to this adventure.

In the next post, I’ll tell a bit about my itinerary and what I’ll be doing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

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