By Kat Riddler, Managing Editor

From 7 to 9 p.m. in Express Scripts Hall 005,  Information Systems students Ashley Moss, senior; Damon Walker, graduate, business administration; Omar Salif, senior; and former cybersecurity student Dan Redden described their work that they completed in Africa while receiving a stipend, travel, and accommodations.

From November to December 2016, Redden was assigned Agriculture Programs Software Training for the Institut Supérieur Agronomic et Vétérinaire de Faranah and Students in Faranah, Guinea. Redden provided technical assistance at Guinea’s largest agricultural university by training professors to use an online open source database system. This system was to allow the university to go from a paper to a paperless environment. The systems that Redden implemented provided two different options to the university to be able to store their documents. Redden also provided hardware and software needed for the assignment that was not available at the university to allow for an easier integration of the new applications.

Walker was in Guinea, Conakry for two weeks.  His assignment was to train the Agriculture Trainers and Specialized Technicians in Computer Information Technology. His tasks included the familiarization of hardware and basic software, document and file classification, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and using the Internet as a research tool.

Walker said, “The experience enabled me to contribute to the global society through job-related training for the betterment of the agricultural industry in Guinea. While I was not training, I learned about the culture. The level of respect and hospitality I received while in Conakry was absolutely unprecedented. The meals were amazing and the food was fresh; especially the fruit.”

Walker gave some advice for those looking into joining the program. He said, “This assignment has provided multiple opportunities for both professional and personal growth.  Professionally, I’ve leaned on my leadership, research, and communication skills.  In regards to the personal impact, I would categorize this experience as transformational.  The way I look at the world, humility of man, and the notion of community has evolved tremendously.  I know that this experience is just the beginning for my future volunteer endeavours.”

Moss was assigned to the Agriculture Technical High School Emile Badiane of Bignona in Bignona, Senegal. Her assignment consisted of a 20-day journey to Senegal, West Africa to help and train the host to develop a website and a database for monitoring and tracking graduates. The Agriculture Technical Highschool of Bignona and The Ziguinchor Horticulture Initiation Center staff and teachers attended Moss’s workshop learning to acquire and manage a website. Also, she developed a methodology and database to track employment of graduates.

Salif was assigned the Training of Trainers in Computer Information Systems & Information Technology in Agriculture Schools in Dabola, Guinea.

Dr. Maurice Dawson, Jr., professor in information systems, was the faculty member for both assignments in Senegal. The assignments offered by Winrock International allow faculty to work directly with a Ministry of Agriculture or government entity. These projects can range from application development to implement document management systems for large universities.

In collaboration with Dakar, Senegal, Dawson was assigned the Training-of-Trainers in Management Accounting Tools for the Horticulture Initiation Center of St. Louis in January this year in St. Louis. In July 2016, he was assigned the Assistance of the Office of Vocational Agriculture Education for the Establishment of Functional Website for the Ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Equipement Rural in Dakar, Senegal.

Assignment number ET-103 will be the first assignment with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). the assignment will improve the livelihoods and nutritional status of significant numbers of low income households by broadening their participation in established commodity value chains as producers and services providers, strengthening community resilience to shocks such as droughts that adversely affect livelihoods, and preserving and enhancing natural resources upon which most rural communities depend.The project will also collaborate with Metemamen MFI staff to assess the existing gaps in the staff knowledge on mobile banking and look for the best practices.

Dawson said, “Many of their IT assignments are very technical. I will be the the person going to work with the bank. This will coincide after completing half of a Fulbright Grant to Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My expectation is that after this assignment that students also have the opportunity to do work with CRS as they have assignments mainly in East Africa.”

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