Change of careers allows student to pursue dream

Posted: December 6, 2011

Farhan Syed, or Mutiso ("new light") as the locals in the Eastern Province of Makindu call him, is pursuing his dream of working in international community development through volunteerism with Peace Corps Kenya as a Community and Economic Development volunteer.
Farhan Syed, CEDEV MPS student and Community and Economic Development Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya.

Farhan Syed, CEDEV MPS student and Community and Economic Development Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya.

Farhan, alum of California State University, Long Beach and a native of Bangladesh, currently resides in a small village which is primarily inhabited by the Kikamba tribe.  His living situation, and study area, is very simple—no running water or electricity.

Years of involvement with Habitat for Humanity uncovered Farhan’s passion and interest in international community development.  Farhan participated in many international habitat projects, including two initiatives for which he was the team leader, to Bangladesh and Vietnam.  After much contemplation, Farhan applied for the Peace Corp and was accepted, leaving his position at Boeing Corporation as a Financial Analyst to pursue his dream of working with international communities.  Currently, Farhan is studying in the Master of Professional Studies program in Community and Economic Development (CEDEV) through the Penn State World Campus while working with 250 plus farmers to help strengthen two farming groups in the village by introducing sustainable agriculture and business practices, including management training, bookkeeping, marketing, value chain analyses, and negotiating contracts with buyers and exporter, and advocacy.  Additionally, Farhan also works with farmers on future projects that focus on new income generation and food security, such as rabbit and fish farming.

In order to battle drought and poverty, the communities of Makindu village came together and created a cooperative to improve livelihood of the villagers. According to Farhan, Makindu is in a semiarid climate zone with chronic droughts.  The village has failed to receive adequate rain in recent years, and the river bed near Farhan’s house has been dry.

Farhan is enjoying his experience with the Peace Corps Kenya, which began in June.