Hello fellow AIDemocracy followers! I’m AIDemocracy’s new Global Development Intern, Noor Khalidi. I’m very excited to be on board this summer, to be learning more about social justice advocacy, and to be delivering you interesting news and reflections within the field of global development.

A little about myself—I am a junior at Virginia Tech studying Economics and International Studies. I began my college career very devoted to environmental issues, primarily due to a class I took my freshman year which exposed the frightening impact of modern human civilization on our Earth and its resources.

While my passion for environmental issues still burns, I have slowly begun to gravitate towards issues of global development and poverty alleviation. Earlier this summer, I traveled to Nicaragua as part of a Virginia Tech field study to learn more about approaches to sustainable development in poor rural communities–communities without running water and electricity, for example.

During my time in Nicaragua, I lived in two villages with very generous host families in modest adobe mud homes, filled with many chickens and a pig or two if lucky.  Through the international organization Green Empowerment and their local partner AsoFenix, I learned about low-impact sustainable development projects such as greywater filters and solar water pumps.

What stuck with me most from this trip was simply living the life of an average rural Nicaraguan villager and experiencing life from their perspective, their day-to-day.

I am also involved with participatory development projects in El Porvenir, Honduras through The Peacework Village Network.  Through our volunteer hours, we have supported community members in working on projects in food security, water sanitation, health education, and youth empowerment. I have been most involved in the food security group and have helped plan community gardens to improve nutrition as well as workshops for women on maintaining the gardens and ensuring healthy produce.

These experiences have opened my eyes wider than ever before, leading me to pursue additional avenues through which I can promote change in the world, such as organizing my peers, raising awareness and advocating for more just and sustainable US foreign policies with AIDemocracy. As young people, with so much energy, idealism and so many resources at our finger tips, I truly believe each one of us can make a difference by devoting our time and energy earnestly.

I very much look forward to my weeks ahead here with you and hope that our conversations might spark your interest and fuel your passion to act—as well as mine!