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Intern Profiles
December 2013
Emily Trudell

Meet Emily Trudell, one of our WHE interns who spent a few months last year working with our partner organization APYN in Mwanza, Tanzania. While there, her primary goal became to work with APYN on a strategic planning process, involving the development of a coherent framework to guide APYN's operations.

As a WHE intern, Emily not only absorbed the wonderful Tanzanian culture - including all the sights, smells and sounds of her new environment - but she also cultivated a willingness to learn from the expertise of others.

"A local Tanzanian peer recently described knowledge like this: you may know 2 things, and I may know 5, but together, we each know 7 things. It is a simple concept, yet it requires the willingness to cooperate, share and learn how others think. This is definitely how I view my time here in Mwanza (aka Rock City), Tanzania, as an intern with Western Heads East, working with the newly established NGO, African Probiotic Yogurt Network (APYN)."

Check out Emily's blog for more details about her trip.

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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August 2013
Shannon Crowder

Shannon Crowder, one of our student interns, recently spent her summer in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Upon arrival, she had the opportunity to work with APYN on their business development, finance plan and marketing strategies. She was actively involved in quality control, visiting individual kitchens and collecting samples to observe any variances in the yoghurt produced by each kitchen. She also discussed ways in which individual kitchens could improve upon their practices on a case by case basis to ensure consistent quality of yoghurt.

While there, Shannon immersed herself in the surrounding culture and used her business knowledge to give back to the community that was so welcoming to her:

"Y2K kitchen has also requested to have someone come and help them with their English and business skills. Since this falls right into my area of interest, teaching and business, I am excited for the opportunity! I am going to try and arrange to meet with them at least once a week to work together on these skills. I think it will be a great opportunity for both of us!"

Visit Shannon's blog to find out more about her experiences as an intern at

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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April 2013
Olivia Vihant

Olivia recently spent her summer in Rwanda. Having already been to Mwanza between January and May in 2010, Rwanda presented a new and exciting experience for Olivia.

She spent much of her trip at Les Enfants de Dieu, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the lives of young street children, specifically boys, and discourages street drug use.

For example, Olivia and her fellow intern Patrick participated in a marathon with them "Sport as a tool in a fight against drug abuse."

"Patrick and I decided to enter into the Semi-marathon (21 km). In the so-called 'Land of a Thousand Hills', I knew I was up for a challenge. It was definitely a difficult, hilly course. The course operated as a 10 km loop-repeat. I'm happy to be able to say that we both finished!!!"

To read more about Olivia's experience visit her blog at

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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January 2013
Megan Enos

Megan Enos is a Master's student studying maternal nutrition and its effect on infant health.

She is studying undernourished pregnant mothers, and whether or not probiotic yoghurt can improve the nutritional health of their infants.

Megan's research will be very beneficial in deciding who the probiotic yogurt should target. After spending over 6 months in Tanzania, she has learned a great deal about life in Eastern Africa.

One example she talks about, is trying to get on the dala dala, or city bus, in the crowded streets of Buswelu.

"Missy had warned me that it can get quite crazy in Buswelu as the dala dala's are not that frequent and people will do whatever they can to get on. I sensed that this was going to happen as the dala dala approached and the crowds got bigger, so I threw away my North American politeness and respect of personal space, stuck out my elbows and muscled (and I mean muscled) my way onto the dala dala. Even on the bus there is no such thing as personal space as I was crammed up against one women, with my elbow in the face of another women due to my hand finding a small spot on the side of the dala dala to keep my balance, and another three people pressing (and I mean pressing, seriously it was like being in a rugby scrum) up behind me"

To read more, visit Megan's blog at

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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December 2012
Patrick Shulist

After spending some time in Haiti as the Project and Engineering Consultant with the organization The Joy and Hope of Haiti, Patrick arrived in Rwanda. His goal was to research the plausibility of setting up a new kitchen in Rwanda.

The previous experience in Haiti greatly prepared him for his time in Rwanda, researching the plausibility of setting up a kitchen in the small nation. As he explains

"Whether its Haitian children pointing at me and yelling "Blanco" or Rwandan children (and sometimes adults) pointing at me and yelling "Muzungu", I've gotten used to being singled out because of my skin colour.

I remember being annoyed by this the entire time I was in Haiti, as well as the first few weeks I was here in Rwanda, but I've somewhat come to peace with it (though it still annoys me). I guess the big thing was to realize that there were no overtly racist undertones meant by this, but instead that it is more of a cultural thing."

To understand more about both of Patrick's international experiences, visit his blog at

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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November 2012
Blake Barkley

It was because of Blake and his fellow intern Gillian that the North Maragoli project was such a success. Not only did he overcome the infrastructural obstacles, he faced his own personal and cultural dilemmas with poise and courage. His regular blogging kept his followers enthralled as he exposed the many challenges of living in a foreign country every day.

"It is such a moral dilemma when someone asks you for money and you are unable and then they get angry or upset when you refuse. The frequency that this occurred yesterday is the inspiration for this post. We came home frustrated and felt as if people only see us as a way to get something. I am not saying that this is the case for everyone, but it is how we felt after such an exhausting day."

To read the entire story on Blake's experiences in Africa, please visit his blog at

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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October 2012
Ellissa Riel

Elissa Riel is spending her summer in Nairobi Kenya as part of her Master's in Education, focusing on Counseling Education. As a student, she has experienced firsthand, the obstacles in getting an education in Africa.

All assignments are expected to be typed, yet few students have a computer. The internet connection is slow, if available at all, yet required for research.

Despite these obstacles, Ellissa has been able to communicate with the students and dispel many stereotypes. For example, Elissa explains that:

"Most Kenyans are very interested in learning about my lifestyle in Canada. I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to minimize some of the stereotypes they have of white people. They think every White is rich, carefree, possibly lazy, and without problems. I had to explain to one Kenyan, who is an educated university student, that we also have problems with domestic violence."

She thought that these 'primitive issues' only occurred in Africa. She was so shocked to hear that such things happened in the 'developed world'.

To read more, go to Ellissa's blog at

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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September 2012
Gillian Haig

Gillian spent this past summer in North Maragoli Kenya setting up a brand new kitchen. She and fellow intern Blake Barkley faced many challenges in the set up. From a lack of electricity and running water, to cultural misunderstandings, Gillian and Blake had a lot to overcome.

Perhaps the most influential part of the trip however was their experience talking with the people affected by HIV/AIDS. As Gillian puts it:

"I've never met someone with HIV before, but in this group of about 20 or so, almost all of them were HIV positive. When you think that this is just a small group of women in a rural area of East Africa, the reality of HIV and AIDS in this part of the world starts to become clear."

To read more, go to Gillian's blog at

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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March 2012
Emily Royer

Meet Emily, a student intern studying at the Richard Ivey School of Business. Emily traveled to the African community Oyugis, Kenya for two months to help with local business development.

"The Mamas are very hard working here and have been selling out of their yogurt daily. They were very welcoming and sang a few songs when we arrived. The kitchen is very organized and clean." - Emily

Head on over to her blog to see how she assisted in creating a sustainable difference in Oyugis.

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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February 2012
Amanda Armstrong

Meet student intern Amanda. A recent HBA graduate from The Richard Ivey School of Business, Amanda traveled with the WHE project to Oyugis, Kenya where she combined her business knowledge with a passion for international development.

"I strongly believe that Western Heads East is an incredible organization and that the success of the yogurt project relies entirely on the people. With the right people in place this project will grow successfully and sustainably to benefit many people in the world." - Amanda

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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January 2012
Kathryn Morgan

Meet student intern Kathryn. In Mwanza, Tanzania she had the opportunity to assist with implementing yoghurt marketing strategies and nutritional development.

She was involved with testing the probiotic yoghurt fortified with a highly nutritious local plant called moringa. Kathryn also did some sensory testing to learn about the acceptability in Tanzanian culture of consuming moringa in the probiotic yoghurt.

When added in amounts to confer the maximum health benefits, the moringa yoghurt has more of the consistency of a dip. The next step will be to look at local uses of this dip with chapattis and other foods. Read about her internship with the WHE project here.

"Marketing of the yoghurt would be greatly helped by increasing brand recognition, so even having some with labels could help spread the word." - Kathryn

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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December 2011
Emily Rowe

Meet student intern Emily, a Western undergraduate and former University Students' Council President (2009-2010). Follow her time spent in Arusha, Tanzania as she worked alongside the local Women's group to develop new kitchen facilities.

"One of the most endearing qualities of African culture, in my opinion, is the resourcefulness of the people." - Emily

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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November 2011
Marta Kopun

Meet student intern Marta. Read Marta's blog that she used to document her time spent developing new yoghurt production facilities in Arusha, Tanzania.

"One thing I have discovered living in Africa, is that no matter how rough of a day it has been, or if things do not go entirely as planned with the project, the people here, especially the children always manage to put a smile on my face and make everything worthwhile." - Marta

Also check out other Intern Journals.

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October 2011
Christopher Taylor

Meet student intern Christopher Taylor, a Ph.D candidate in History and Migration & Ethnic Relations. Follow Christopher's blog as he embarks on a journey to learn about African culture and apply this to his thesis on Canadian-African identity. Chris also set to work with the Tukwamuane Women's Group in Mwanza

"...there are people in the world that live one day at a time just trying to survive with what little they have..." - Christopher

Partnering with Africa for health and sustainable development through probiotics.
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