This article is a contribution to a four-week blog series celebrating 30 years of USAID’s John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program.
Another central theme of the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program is citizen diplomacy.
The Center for Citizen Diplomacy states that “citizen diplomacy is the concept that every global citizen has the right, even the responsibility, to engage across cultures and create shared understanding through meaningful person-to-person interactions.” Time and time again, Farmer-to-Farmer makes this happen.
One of our favorite examples of citizen diplomacy, and a true model of compassion and service, is Dr. Kirk Astroth.
Kirk trained representatives from 18 youth-serving organizations in Nepal, including the National Youth Federation of Nepal (NYFN), on methods to engage youth and teach leadership, communication, and advocacy skills. A year later, he is still in touch with his trainees. Kirk’s service went above and beyond the timeframe of his two-weeks in country; the assignment was just the first ripple.
After Kirk’s assignment, participants were eager to start new youth development activities. Given their keen interest and commitment, he assisted NYFN to obtain three scholarships to participate in The First Global 4H Summit 2014 in South Korea. After attending the summit and returning inspired, NYFN immediately began the process of registering a 4-H club. In January 2015, they received government approval and established 4-H Nepal, the first in the country.
Mr. Lok Raj Awasthi, General Secretary of NYFN, was one of the participants that attended Kirk’s training and the summit in Korea. He now serves as Chair of Nepal 4-H. After reaching out to Kirk for continued advice and to update him on progress, Lok was invited to come to the US – sponsored by Kirk and the University of Arizona — for three weeks. During his time in the US, he participated in youth development training and 4-H exchanges with American and international 4-H leaders, and visited farms in Arizona. Lok explains, “I learned many things and gained many skills. This is most important for Nepal!”
During his trip to the US, Lok also had the opportunity to teach about Nepal. In addition to sharing his experiences with 4-H leaders from 35 U.S. states, he gave presentations to faculty from the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and at an Arizona high school. It was a unique and fortunate opportunity for Lok as well as for the numerous individuals that he met.
Soon after Lok returned to Nepal, the massive earthquake hit the country. Putting what they learned from Kirk into practice, Lok and the members of the newly registered 4-H Nepal club mobilized nearly 600 youth volunteers to help with rebuilding and relief efforts in 12 affected districts. Just as Kirk had modeled for them, these leaders and the youth volunteers are now modeling compassion and service in their home country.
Who knew that a ripple could be stronger than an earthquake?
From November 16-December 11, F2F program partners are sharing their knowledge and experience providing technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers, and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries. As aligned with Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, F2F works to support inclusive agriculture sector growth, facilitate private sector engagement in the agriculture sector, enhance development of local capacity and promote climate-smart development. Volunteer assignments address host-led priorities to expand economic growth that increases incomes and improves access to nutritious food. This blog series aims to capture and share this program experience.
Read more articles celebrating 30 years of F2F on Agrilinks