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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Visits with U.S. Universities through the Eyes of Asia F2F Staff, Part 1

Jen Snow

Winrock’s Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) country directors from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar (Burma) came to the US at the end of January for training at Winrock’s headquarters and visits with several U.S. universities across the country. The visits were intended to strengthen connections, recruit potential volunteers, and provide an opportunity for the Asia staff to see the American university and extension system first-hand. The exchanges and shared knowledge will help each of the country directors as they move forward with program planning for the next five years.

Winrock’s Bangladesh F2F Country Director, Dr. Shamsul Kabir, narrates his visits below:

I was excited when I heard that we were going to visit
Kentucky State University, University of Kentucky, and North Carolina State University (NCSU). It instantly reminded me of several faces from those universities, who came to Bangladesh as F2F volunteers and established ever-unforgettable
images in our mind.

After we arrived in Kentucky, exciting things started to happen one after one, every day. The first was the meeting with Phill Craft, who volunteered in Bangladesh in March 2012. He and his wife invited us for dinner. Phill was asking of the progress of his work, and shared many good memories of working with beekeepers, Winrock staff, and others in Bangladesh. His wife was watching with amazed eyes, and at a certain point, she also expressed willingness to volunteer.

We went to the Aquaculture Research Center at Kentucky State University the next morning. Renowned Professor and Aquaculture Scientist Dr. James H. Tidwell (who I knew before through books and journals) and his colleagues made us really honoured with a warm welcome and the opportunity for me to give a presentation on how U.S. volunteers have contributed to F2F in the past and opportunities to volunteer in the future.

In the afternoon, Dr. Brent Rowell and his colleagues welcomed us at the University of Kentucky. I also had opportunity to give another presentation there, and learn about the interest of faculties and students in volunteering.

Then, we moved to North Carolina. Michael Frinsko, Aquaculture Area Agent from NCSU, picked us up at the airport. Mike previously completed two F2F volunteer assignments for Winrock in Burma. During that period, I had email communication with him and learned about his generosity, sincerity, and willingness to help people. This time, I had the opportunity to see it with my own eyes. He provided extraordinary support to organize meetings for us at NCSU.

Mike drove us to visit a hi-tech indoor aquaculture farm. I was amazed to see the high-density tilapia culture using oxygen cones, biofilters, automatic feeding, and computerized monitoring system. This was an excellent opportunity for me to see how efficiently production of safe food can take place.

It was rewarding for us to have the kind support of Dr. David Green, John Sabella, Patricia Holoman, and their colleagues to attend their staff meeting at NCSU. They gave us the opportunity to present on the F2F program. We had several volunteers from NCSU in Bangladesh and Burma in the last couple of years. We were fortunate that we could meet with three of them (Mike Frinsko, Dr. Kaism Ingawa and Dr Sanjay Shah) on this trip.

We were so happy to visit Dr. Ingawa’s family and have dinner with them at his residence. We are thankful for the delicious meal and gift from the family. I know very well how busy Dr Ingawa is. Despite that, it was so nice of him to arrange a meeting for us with Dairy Record Management System and finally to drive us to the airport, helping us to check-in our luggage and giving us a memorable see-off.

I consider this trip as a very helpful and productive one. This
trip helped me to learn, encouraged me a lot, and gave me satisfaction of valuable accomplishments. I hope this will help us to bring new ideas, information through recruiting many new volunteers, and thus, increase F2F program impact.

[Stay tuned for stories from our other two country directors next week!]