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Learning how to build people to build nations

Updated: Feb 17, 2019

How can you share your professional skills overseas? REI sends short-term teams each year, but you may not have heard of REIzors Edge! Learning how to build people to build nations takes time, so the global office is developing a diverse program for new REI staff wanting to take their professions overseas. Many have little or no experience using their skills in cross-cultural settings, so the two year apprentice program is designed to equip staff across a variety of areas. With 2-3 months in the global office, topics range from personal identity, to working with a team, and doing development work.

Alyssa Meyer and Florence Fong are two new apprentices joining the REI Resident team in Hanoi. With backgrounds in Agriculture and Social Work, they are each passionate about learning how to pass on their training to others. Alyssa is planning to combine English education with dairy science, and Florence is beginning intensive Vietnamese language study in preparation for her service in social work.

Alyssa and Florence in Vietnam together last fall during their time with the business team.

More than simply the lessons and assignments, Alyssa found many benefits in learning from the staff with long personal backgrounds in development work:

“If I had to use a few descriptive words, I would say my time was comprehensive, intimate, and applicable. The REI staff rallied together to each share their own strengths with us, and I value that immensely. In terms of lessons, I think one of the most important was on conflict resolution. It’s such a practical skill, especially when working among many different cultures in one office.”

Alyssa and Florence at the royal gorge with two professional fellows from Vietnam.

The apprentice program is designed with two parts. The intense preparation in the global office allows for up to one additional month of training to enhance each staff’s professional contribution. This can often be in English teaching, which many people are asked to do regardless of their main skill sets. The largest portion of the time is then spent overseas learning and working alongside REI’s long-term resident staff.

After her time in the office, Alyssa comments on how she sees the REI staff as rooted:

“Of course everyone was always supportive of me asking tons of questions, REI really competes to care for each other on a daily basis. I feel supported and known after my training experience.”

After three months of individualized training, Alyssa and Florence are each ready to fly out to their next assignments!

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