Though Ripples’ program, Peichen’s classroom knowledge was put to the test and she was able to gain practical experience and new insight into her chosen profession.
Our Intern, Peichen, was pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis when she applied to our program. Peichen applied for Ripples’ Fellowship program looking for an opportunity to gain experience in the field she ultimately wanted to work in: Program Evaluation.
She was surprised and excited to learn that through our program, she would do more than just assist the evaluation process – she would spearhead the design of the survey itself in collaboration with Ripples’ local staff. “The most unforgettable part of my practicum was doing the evaluation part, as I was taking my evaluation course at the time, and got to put what I learned directly into practice. It has been very educating and valuable and I am very appreciative I was given that opportunity.
During her stay with us, Peichen conducted a baseline evaluation for the Ripples Farm project. During her orientation phase, she became immersed in the program and learned about its potential impact on women and youth in rural Nigeria. To develop a baseline evaluation, she needed to identify which variables were most important for evaluation. She concluded that the survey must measure household income, income sources before the program and baseline levels of empowerment for women and youth.
One of the challenges Peichen faced was in incorporating the local culture into her study. Thanks to Ripples’ local staff, she was able to get a first-hand view into how villagers would react to her questions and modify her survey accordingly. “The local staff helped me translate the questionnaire into the local language and reframe the questions in a more suitable and culturally competent way… That was a totally new experience because I thought my questionnaire was cultural competent because I used one used in other African countries. But I learned I needed to work with local staff to create a questionnaire that was more suitable.”
Once the questionnaire was completed, Peichen handed off the administrative portion of her survey to Ripples’ local staff in Nigeria, who knew best the cultural customs and could interact with beneficiaries in a holistic manner. During that period, Peichen participated in Ripples’ fundraising team writing grants, which she had never done before! “Grant writing was a totally new concept for me because I had no experience with it… Thankfully I had the help of other intern students, other colleagues and Mrs. Toba who had been my supervisor… I learned that grant writing was actually not that complicated!”
Peichen was grateful for the opportunity to obtain once-in-a-lifetime experience leading a program evaluation project in a foreign country. This experience took her beyond the classroom and gave her essential, practical experiences that expanded her knowledge. “If you are thinking of interning with the Ripples Foundation, I encourage you to please apply! It has been a very educating and unique experience, and if you join, I assure you it will be unforgettable for you.”