Bangladesh is a small country--comparable in size to the state of Iowa--nestled between the countries of India and Myanmar. From the time the country gained independence from Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh has struggled to develop amidst obstacles such as widespread governmental corruption, extremely high levels of poverty, and the highest population density in the world. Currently, only 46% of the population is literate--a term evaluated by the ability of the individual to write his or her own name. In addition, water availability is scarce, infrastructure is weak, and job creation is low. Although Bangladesh has begun to experience modest levels of economic growth, any growth at all has been regarded as "a miracle" by some modern economists.
It is in this small country that College of Idaho students Kendra Knighten and Ryan Gibson will be found for the duration of their summer. From May 15 until August 1, Kendra and Ryan will be working as interns for an American development organization called Partners in Sustainable Development International (PSDI), which works closely with the Poverty Eradication Program (PEP) branch of the Bangladeshi NGO Agrajattra. Through PSDI and PEP, Kendra and Ryan will have opportunity to learn about poverty and development from a first hand experience while working directly with the poor. (To learn more about PSDI, please visit its website at psdintl.org)
Kendra Knighten and Ryan Gibson are both International Political Economy majors wishing to pursue careers in International Development. Although Kendra is uncertain as to where she would like to work in the future, she has found a passion for encouraging development through the empowerment of women through education and social change. Ideally, Kendra would like to work with the poor at a very personal level in order to encourage and create economic and social growth from a grassroots approach. Ryan, on the other hand, wishes to pursue development through a policy-making or administrative position in order to promote large scale change. Although both students are pursuing different paths, their goals are the same--to aid in the alleviation of poverty from a global perspective.
For the next 10 weeks, Kendra and Ryan will share their life-changing experiences as they learn the intricacies of Bangladesh, development, and poverty. Enjoy!