PiAf Alums with Princeton in Africa honoree Nicholas Kristof at the annual benefit on October 28, 2010.

Fellows’ Flyer


News and views for and by Princeton in Africa Fellows

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Some people might say that my Africa experience is a bit unusual. I sit in an air-conditioned office all day using a brand-new laptop with Windows 7. I live in an a (mostly) power cut-free apartment that (mostly) has internet. I can get good—and I mean good—croissants without leaving my neighborhood. I can get good—and I mean really good—Chinese food without leaving my street. Last weekend, I went to literally the nicest bowling alley I have ever seen, where a DJ spun Top 40 hits and teenagers wasted money on arcade games.


Where is the real Africa? you might ask. Where is all the poverty? The starvation? The poor health care? The illiteracy?


Well, don’t worry. It’s there. Every day, as I walk to work, I pass men and women who have been so crippled by vitamin deficiency that they literally drag their feet. I pass talibés—boys between about four and twelve whose Koranic teachers send them out onto the streets—shaking their tomato cans at me. And on my way home from work, I pass the men who sleep on my street because they have nowhere else to go.


Yes, the bad stuff exists. And it is perhaps even more apparent in a city like Dakar and its outskirts, where extreme wealth and extreme poverty converge in a place where everyone believes they can make just a little more money.


I also see the bad stuff every day in my work as a Public Information Assistant at the UN World Food Programme West Africa Regional Bureau. I am constantly bombarded with information about food insecurity, malnutrition, illiteracy, and child and maternal mortality, and it is my job to turn the sufferings of millions of people into sound bites that are digestible for the media and for donors.


Fortunately, my work shows me the good stuff as well: WFP activities are helping vulnerable populations to become more agriculturally and economically self-sufficient. WFP capacity-building has paid off in a big way, with some governments even taking over full financial and managerial control of certain programs. WFP assistance has saved thousands of lives by reducing malnutrition rates in drought-stricken areas.


Even more fortunately, I see the good stuff in my daily life as well. The real Africa is not just despair and desperation. There is hope, hard work, and happiness as well. There are illiterate housekeepers who work long hours to send their children, and themselves, to school. There are vegetable sellers who offer a “cadeau” of peanuts or basil because they appreciate a smiling, returning customer. There are the security guards who wave and say “Good Morning!” in English to me every day, even if it is 5 pm.


Sometimes it can be very hard to live here and to see so many people whose lives are so much harder than mine. But most of the time, it is wonderful.

by Molly Slotznick, ‘10-’11 Fellow at World Food Program in Senegal

Notes from the Field

Molly in the field with WFP. These children accompany their parents as they harvest corn in the fields outside Dedougou, Burkina Faso.

Notes from the Field

Jamie enjoying the sunset at the Lower Zambezi River.

The KF staff (from left): Oliver, Co-founder and President; Harrison, Programs Officer; Florence, Co-founder/Executive Director; Jamie; and Simasiku, Finance Officer

Molly and a UN coworker are interviewed by a Senegalese TV crew at the Goree Diaspora Festival.

by Jamie Nadeau, ‘10-’11  Fellow at  Kucetekela in Zambia

My Princeton in Africa Fellowship in Lusaka, Zambia turns every preconception of the traditional “job just out of college” on its head. There is no “field-office” divide in my post at the Kucetekela Foundation, a tiny grassroots nonprofit that sends promising but vulnerable Lusaka students who would never be able to afford secondary school fees to some of the best private schools in the city. In fact, it’s very rare that I actually operate from an office at all.


On any given day, I could be meeting with mentors, stopping by the schools to tutor, rushing to a staff meeting, and appearing on Zambian radio…all before 5 pm. This is the essence of a fellowship with KF, one that has unlimited opportunities for independence and innovation, and one that varies drastically from day-to-day. Sometimes I stop and think for a bit about the amazing breadth of the KF program, despite the fact that we only have four local employees—the 30+ mentors, the work placement program we offer, the community service projects we encourage, the tutoring, the career and tertiary guidance, the conferences, and on and on. And then I take time to appreciate the uniqueness of this opportunity, the unbelievable unpredictability of my weeks, the flexibility I am allowed each day, and the subtle yet essential bond that keeps everyone working so hard on KF’s programs. It’s the kids—this ultra-motivated, humble, talented, and relentless group of young adults that are grabbing hold of a special opportunity and making KF, their schools, and their families and communities so proud.


Yes, there are inevitable frustrations in this type of work, and contradictions in the NGO sector that are often difficult to reconcile. And of course, from time to time I allow myself the opportunity to have fun (enjoying the thumping Lusaka nightlife with friends; going out to eat Indian, Italian, or Mexican; visiting the local markets to browse for fresh vegetables or crafts; taking trips to Victoria Falls; visiting the Lower Zambezi for some hippo and croc viewing or stunning Lake Malawi for an enormous music festival). But in the end, it all comes back to the students. They have a certain fire in them that I rarely see in students their age—a level of maturity and focus that continues to amaze me every day, and an insatiable curiosity about the world. They and students like them are the future of this country, and I have every faith that these young people will continue to succeed and find ways to make differences in their communities.  And I am fortunate enough to be a part of the organization that helps make these things possible. “You are part of our family now,” I remember Gaella, a grade 11, assuring me during my first month in Zambia when I was missing home. At night when I settle into bed, I often think about how far I’ve come in just a few short months, how much I’ve already learned, and fall asleep confident and happy that tomorrow will be completely different from the day before it.

Blog   of  the  Month

Name of blog:  Chris Courtin’s Blog

Written by: Chris Courtin, 2010-2011 Johnson & Johnson Fellow at Nyumbani Village in Kenya


From a recent posting: “If you’re ever looking to get really, really frustrated, try taking a shopping list to a hardware store in Kenya. Its a great, exercise-free way to get the blood pressure up for a few hours.

“Can we just order some of these caps for the thin PVC?”
“No, is impossible.”
“Why is it impossible?”
“We don’t have. The company doesn’t make them, its impossible.”
“Are you sure they don’t make them? They make all the other parts.”
“No, no, is impossible.”

But, 45 minutes and the owner of the store later, it had gone from “impossible” to “oh sure, no problem.” I think it may just be a ruse to keep all the people who aren’t serious about buying PVC out of the store...


Read more of Chris’s blog here!

PiAf  Connections:

At Home And Around Africa

Princeton In Africa’s 2010 Annual Benefit

From my terrace I can hear roosters, crying babies, the call to prayer, and the ramblings of a small anarchist political party next door.  The cacophony of contrasting sounds and sights is the essence of Abidjan.  The front of my terrace overlooks streets of sprawling villas, and from the back I look out onto a village.   What I have come to love most about Abidjan is its diversity.  I am exposed to so many different layers and levels of Ivorian culture. 

 I feel incredibly lucky to have come here at the time I did.  I arrived right as they announced the date for the long-awaited presidential elections and I have gotten to watch the city evolve over time into full on campaign mode.  It has given me the opportunity to talk to people about their experiences and their desires and has made me feel incredibly connected to the city. While I clearly stand out as a foreigner, I truly appreciate people’s tendency to overlook my status as an expatriate.  People ask me with a straight face who I am going to vote for and bring me into the conversation as if I too had a stake in the future of this country.  I cannot say that I do not feel like an outsider, but I am starting to feel at ease and at home here. 

My office at the International Rescue Committee is made up of mostly national staff.  While most of my friends outside of work are expatriates, working with so many national staff has given me the opportunity to better understand people’s experiences during the war and how it has impacted the country.  I have also been fortunate enough to take some really incredible trips out into the field to see the impact of IRC projects on the ground.  At a donation ceremony in one of the villages in which we rehabilitated a health center, the community surprised IRC field agents who had been working with them for several months, by bringing out mask dancers that come out once every one to five years.  It was an incredible experience for me to get to see traditional Ivoirian masks and dance. The staff was incredibly touched and I felt privileged to get to be a part of such a ceremony. 

Although most of my day is spent behind a desk in front of a computer, I now understand how much I can learn from working in the grants department.  It was tough in the beginning to feel so confined, but my work is getting more and more interesting.  Getting to see the ways in which local NGOs, major international donors and government agencies all interact on the ground have helped me to develop a clearer picture of the way development projects and humanitarian assistance unfold on the ground.  I feel incredibly grateful to get to spend this year in Côte d’Ivoire and am excited for the year to continue!


Two young girls who work at a pig farm supported by the IRCs Child and Youth Protection and Development.  The pig farm is located in Man, one of the cities most affected by the conflict.

Nina at orientation in Princeton before leaving for Côte d’Ivoire in June.

At 9 pm I receive a knock on my office door. An askari wanders in and mutters something to me in Kiswahili. Confused, I respond, “Ndovu?” to which he affirmatively nods his head and points out my window into the depths of darkness. I hurriedly finish up an email and walk outside with the askari who then shows me the elephant grazing on the lawn a mere ten meters away. He escorts me over to my room and within thirty minutes a low growl sounds from the bushes outside my window. Goodnight, Miss Elephant. Such is the life here at the Mpala Research Centre (MRC).


I cannot really say that any day here so far has been typical. For one, I mean who’s used to finding elephants on the road, watching giraffes from your office window, and hearing hyenas call throughout the night. This 48,000-acre conservancy, located a mere 30 kilometers north of the equator and Mt. Kenya, is unique to the area. MRC is one of the only properties in East Africa dedicated to biological research. Mpala is home to endangered species, like Grevy’s zebra and the African wild dog, and borders conservancies and group ranches, home to the pastoralist Maasai and Samburu. This makes an interesting mix of land use practices. “Livestock or wildlife?” and “ranching or tourism?” are common questions throughout the Laikipia district in Kenya. Everyone, however, agrees on one thing: rain rather than no rain. This wet year has been a blessing for all following last year’s severe drought.


A typical workday does not exist at Mpala. Everyday is different. I split my time between office work and fieldwork and my work ranges from short, one-time projects to continuous ones. I supervise, for example, the Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs, an afterschool outreach program at five area primary schools. Just this month, I was with one of the schools sweep-netting for grasshoppers and butterflies for the students to visually learn the parts of an insect. I also set up camera traps and analyze photos for Mpala’s camera trapping project, which assesses how different land management strategies across Laikipia affect wildlife population. By working on the Mpala Memos team, our quarterly newsletter, I have the fun excuse to interview people on their jobs or research in addition to laying out the newsletter itself. Another responsibility I have grown quite fond of is that of issuing ID cards, which gives me the opportunity to meet all of Mpala’s 200 employees, who come from a variety of tribes- Turkana, Maasai, and Kikuyu. It is hard not to fall in love with a place where every drive is essentially a game drive, every project offers a challenge, and every day I learn something new.


So when I awake to an elephant trumpeting outside my window, I say “Good morning, Miss Ndovu.” A new day awaits and time flies by, so I savor these moments on the run. The sun rises and wildlife stirs at Mpala, a place I am proud to call home.


Feel free to hear more about my experience as Mpala's PiAf Fellow by following my blog, http://theresainafrica.wordpress.com/.

by Theresa Laverty ‘10-’11 Keller Family Foundation Fellow at Mpala in Kenya

Notes From The Field

One of the photos Theresa received while working with Mpala’s camera traps. An inquisitive warthog approaches the camera.

Theresa with three male lions beside the Mara River on a trip to the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

—Highlights from 2010-2011:  Fellows Nina Sheth in Côte d’Ivoire, Molly Slotznick in Senegal, Jamie Nadeau in Zambia & Theresa Laverty in Kenya.

by Nina Sheth, ‘10-’11 Fellow at International Rescue Committee, Côte d’Ivoire

Notes from the Field

Erondu and Lieberman.JPG

Learn more about the PiAf program via former Fellows, current partners and supporters.  “Change Makers” was produced by Emmy Award-winner James Blue (‘91) and Public Affairs Media Group.  View the video here.

In November, PiAf board member Evan Lieberman visited Mgbechi Erondu (pictured) in Botswana and Veda Sunassee in South Africa.  If you are traveling in Africa in the near future let us know and we’ll connect you to a current PiAf Fellow who can show you their organization and tell you about their experience in Africa.

Princeton in Africa honored Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn at our annual benefit at the University Club in NYC on October 28, 2010.  Twenty former fellows were on hand to share their fellowship experiences with attendees and a new video produced by James Blue’91, “Change Makers” premiered at the event.



The evening’s highlight was no doubt the remarks made by Nick Kristof as he accepted the PiAf medal. “I am a Harvard man, but talking to so many PiAf fellows has made me jealous of Princeton,” Kristof stated, to a round of laughs.

More seriously, Kristof said, “Congratulations on all you are doing to empower people half a world away and people right here.”

To read a write-up of the event by PiAf alum Alyson Zureick, click here.

To see more photos of the benefit, visit our Facebook album.







Princeton in Africa supporters, Board members and alumni received a surprising admission from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof at the annual PiAf benefit on October 28 in New York.


“I am a Harvard man, but talking to so many PiAf Fellows has made me jealous of Princeton,” Kristof stated, to a round of laughs.


Kristof presented the keynote address at the benefit and accepted the Princeton in Africa medal of honor on behalf of himself and his wife, journalist and businesswoman, Sheryl WuDunn.   The couple received the award in honor of their bestselling book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.


“Nowhere is the Princeton in Africa mission better articulated than in Half the Sky,” said PiAf board chairman George Hritz, who introduced Kristof.  “Not only does the book call for a revolution in development and gender equality, but it also calls on young people around the world to become engaged in Africa.”


Kristof discussed his own first time in Africa as a young man learning Arabic in Egypt.  The experience was marked by cultural snafus and a constant feeling of being “out of my depth,” Kristof explained.  He praised PiAf for providing young people with a unique opportunity to “encounter new worlds” and to learn lessons that they could not gain at home or in the classroom.


“Grassroots work in places like Africa shows you how complicated the world is,” Kristof said.  “Our efforts to help others have mixed records.  But PiAf Fellows take those lessons with them and they will inform their work for the rest of their lives.”


Kristof also praised PiAf Fellows and alumni for building “human bonds” between Americans and Africans and for helping people in developed countries see how much progress is being made in Africa.  “If you want more people engaged in these issues, you need to foster human connections, as PiAf Fellows are doing” Kristof said.


“Congratulations on all you are doing to empower people half a world away and people right here,” he concluded.


To see more photos of the benefit, visit our Facebook album.



On September 29, PiAf held its 2nd annual friendraiser in San Francisco. Ten former Fellows told a room full of guests about their life-changing experiences with PiAf.  The event was hosted by Cecily and Derek Schrier and was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our PiAf family on the west coast.  To see photos of the event, visit our album on Facebook.

PiAf Video “Change Makers”

Oliver Barry (‘05-’06) and Elly Sukup (‘10-’11)met up in Ghana; Elly is working with WFP and Oliver is performing medical research.

Two students from our  partner organization Generation Rwanda stopped by our offices in Princeton for a visit in October.


Case Martin (‘10-’11 South Sudan) visited Veda Sunassee (‘10-’11) in Johannesburg at the African Leadership Academy in October.





We were quite pleased with the strong interest in the PiAf program this year and it looks like we have some excellent candidates for next year’s fellowship posts.  In total, we received 336 applications from:

—100 colleges and universities around the US (compared to 68 schools in ‘09).  This is a 47% increase in schools over last year.

—Overall we had a 18% increase in applications over last year.

Thanks to everyone who helped us recruit and spread the word about the PiAf program!

In mid-January, Cordelia and Stephanie will be interviewing 2011-12 fellowship candidates along with PiAf board members and alumni.  If you are interested in helping out with interviews, please contact us at piaf@princeton.edu.



by Alyson Zureick  ‘07-’08 Fellow at International Rescue Committee in  Sierra Leone

Report on PiAf’s Annual Benefit



PIAf welcomes new staff member, Chantal Palmer as Head of Development. To read about Chantal, click here.


Twenty-one of our current Fellows have posted blogs about their experiences in Africa. If you would like to read more of our 2010-11 Fellows’ blog posts, please visit the “Fellows” page of our website.

PiAf  Applications

For ‘11-’12 Are In!


Princeton in Africa has named Chantal Palmer its new Head of Development. In this position, Chantal will oversee PiAf’s fundraising and asset-building programs.


Chantal is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. She has a BA in Industrial Psychology, an MBA from the UK and she studied Social Entrepreneurship at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France.  For the last four years Chantal has split her time between Europe and the US, working as Development Director for MIMA Music (a Princeton based non-profit) and then for the Ethical Fashion Forum of London looking at Sustainable Development initiatives in Africa. Chantal travels regularly to Africa and the rest of the world and works closely with INSEAD Business School’s Social Entrepreneurship Alumni group promoting Social Entrepreneurs around the world.


Chantal (center) with PiAf board member Schuyler Heuer and Dick Leonard at the Princeton in Africa annual benefit.