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Global Youth Engagement

Suzanne Nielsen, Special Initiatives Global Affairs Fellow, has responsibilities focused mostly in Africa and Latin America.  She is the lead contact for Purdue’s strategic partnerships with Africare and Catholic Relief Services (CRS).  Both of these groups are non-governmental  organizations (NGOs) well known for for their programs in emergency response, agriculture, and health in Africa and other parts of the world.   Purdue’s collaborations with Africare and CRS are just beginning, but are expected to expand  Purdue’s access to funding opportunities, and to provide powerful research, engagement and learning experiences for faculty, staff, and students.  Purdue now has agreements in place with both Africare and CRS, and joint projects are being pursued.  For example, a joint research between CRS and Purdue will determine the effect of small scale irrigation and nutrition education on dietary diversity in Ethiopia.  Purdue’s relationships with both Africare and CRS have the potential to enhance service learning opportunities for Purdue students and greatly broaden their experiences.

Christie Vilsack and studentsSuzanne is helping Purdue examine its strengths and interests in the area of global youth engagement, which is now a major focus for NGOs, governments, and corporations.  In April, a brainstorming workshop took place on campus.  Participants included 25 faculty and staff from across campus who represented various organizations and areas of expertise in youth engagement.  It was exciting to bring together people from varied disciplines with the common experience and interest in working with youth.  Just a week earlier, a number of the workshop participants met with Christie Vilsack, Senior Advisor on Education, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  During Christie’s  visit to Purdue,  she spent the morning with faculty and students in the College of Education, and the afternoon with others from across campus representing various Purdue youth engagement programs, both in the U.S. and internationally.  Students and faculty who met with Christie couldn’t help but be inspired through their interaction with her!

Suzanne’s focus on Africa led to creation of a map of the country showing the involvement of various Purdue colleges in Africa.  The map highlights Purdue’s strength and commitment in that continent - from programs focused on seed storage, to water quality, to education.  This Africa map project led to gathering information and creating a map showing Purdue’s involvement in Latin America as well. These maps showing Purdue’s global reach and commitment in various parts of the world are being used to help secure new resources that will benefit faculty and students, and further enhance Purdue’s international reputation.