Hello! My name is Vincent Constantino and as a QE Scholar, I will be embarking on a journey to the warm heart of Africa, also known as Malawi, for my co-op placement! I will be working in Lilongwe, Malawi for 11 months with World University Service of Canada (WUSC) in partnership with Legumes Development Trust as well as the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) as the Youth Engagement and Entrepreneurship Officer. Legumes Development Trust is a platform that aims to promote sustainability and improve the legumes value chain within the agricultural sector of Malawi. NASFAM works to create a network of smallholder-owned businesses in order to create sustainability of the agricultural sector and promote farming as a business to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. While in Malawi, I will be working to create a network of youth, increasing their engagement within LDT partners and seek areas of possible entrepreneurship opportunities for youth. I also hope to conduct research on different aspects and issues of accessibility for people with disabilities within developing countries.
During first year, I had no idea where I would be going and I would have never thought I would be in Malawi for my placement. A lesson I’ve learned from professors, mentors, and development professionals is that we should try to work with organizations that have the same passions and values as we do. At first, I was quite hesitant about this placement, however the more I learn about the country and the organizations that I’ll be working with, the more I feel that this placement aligns with what I believe in. In all honesty, everything I’ve learned about this placement has made me realize that that this was truly meant for me.
Although I’ve spent most of my life growing up in Canada and travelling around the world, I have never come across the opportunity to go to Africa until now! I am very excited to get the chance to encounter new experiences and finally apply all of the skills I have learned throughout my life into the work I will be doing in Malawi. I am truly lucky and grateful to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship and the Gallant Y. T. Ho Scholarship in International Development as they made all of this possible. I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity and am extremely excited to make the most out of this placement.