Zoes’ Story “Craft, Cram, & Chat”

Zoe Sharp, April, 25, 2024

As I look back on my enriching six months at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had and the growth I’ve experienced. My time at IFAD has been nothing short of transformative, filled with valuable learning experiences, meaningful connections, and impactful contributions to IFAD’s mission – building on my skills and understandings as a student of International Development Studies.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my internship was the opportunity to lead and grow the University of Guelph’s IFAD Student Club. Serving as the student club President, I witnessed the club’s growth firsthand, fostering a vibrant community of passionate individuals committed to advancing agricultural development. A significant part of my role at IFAD involved managing IFAD-Guelph Club social media accounts, and creating compelling content to amplify the organization’s message. I take a great amount of pride in the fact that I more than doubled the social media reach during my tenure, effectively leveraging digital platforms to raise awareness and mobilize support for IFAD’s initiatives.

Another highlight of my internship was preparing the proposal for the potential visitation to the Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (GASIP) by Canadian International Development Minister, Ahmed Hussen, and IFAD President, Alvaro Lario. Crafting this proposal was a testament to my commitment to driving impactful collaborations and fostering dialogues between key stakeholders in the development sector. Additionally, I had the privilege of curating the fourth edition of the IFAD Americas Liaison Office’s (ALO) newsletter, a platform for sharing insights, updates, and success stories from across IFAD’s projects worldwide. Through meticulous attention to detail and creative flair, I aimed to deliver engaging content that resonated with IFAD’s diverse audience of internal and external stakeholders.

In collaboration with my fellow interns, I contributed to the organization and execution of two virtual events that explored critical themes in agricultural development and youth empowerment. Our first event, “The Role of Youth in a Food Secure Future” encouraged students from McGill and the University of Guelph to think introspectively about their individual skills and abilities in relation to larger global issues, as explored by panelists from 4-H Canada, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and IFAD. Our second virtual event in collaboration with the IFAD Youth Network (IYN) – “Exploring Diverse Pathways to a Career in Development”, presented students with the opportunity to learn from, and network with experts in the field of development, in order to conceptualize their unique background within the context of United Nations Development Agencies. From conceptualizing event themes to securing esteemed panellists and creating compelling promotional materials, every aspect was a testament to our collective dedication and passion for driving positive change. Personally, I took on a strong role in social media coordination and promotion for our events, using my skills with Canva and Adobe to create outreach campaigns. Ultimately, the McGill Interns and I saw great success, with our virtual events garnering more than 100 collective participants. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to contribute to the promotional marketing for an IFAD-organized official side event at the Commission on the Status of Women 68 (CSW68), amplifying IFAD’s visibility in its organizational commitment to gender equity and women’s empowerment on a global stage.

Overall, one of the most fulfilling aspects of my internship was the chance to connect with students and professionals from diverse backgrounds and disciplines – fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge and exchange. One example of this can be seen in using the example of my third and final IFAD Student Club event, titled, “Craft, Cram, & Chat”, in collaboration with the Universities’ International Development Society (IDSOC) and the Guelph Institute of Development Studies (GIDS). This allowed the IFAD-Guelph Student Club to grow its visibility on campus – while also encouraging important conversations around the topics of youth involvement and collaborative efforts in promoting positive global change.

As I bid farewell to IFAD, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the invaluable experiences and relationships that have shaped my journey. My internship has not only deepened my understanding of global development challenges but also equipped me with the skills, insights, and determination to drive positive change in the world. In closing, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of IFAD’s ALO family and look forward to carrying forward the lessons and memories from this transformative experience, as I embark on the next chapter of my journey in the development sector. I would also like to note that my personal growth would not have been possible if it were not for the compassionate and knowledgeable team I had the honour of working with at the ALO. I will be forever grateful for this experience and wish Carmina, Rachel, Julie, and Jean – and Guelph’s own Dr. Ataharul Chowdhury great success with IFAD’s mission and internship programme in the future.