Andrew Foy is a graduate from Iowa State University who completed a degree in horticulture and landscape design. He worked in a year-king Program Management internship at Malama Kauai to gain hands-on experience of the roles in the non-profit such as writing grants, coordinating events, and managing volunteers.
Q: What did you hope to learn/gain during your time with Malama Kauai? Did you indeed learn/gain those things?
A: Experience in a more administrative role in a non-profit (i.e. – writing grants, coordinating events, managing volunteers). Yep! And much more!
Q: What was your favorite part of your internship?
A: Having the ability to work independently, identify schools garden needs, and use my resources, connects, and horticulture/landscaping skills and experience to execute on. More specifically, it was fulfilling to see school garden projects all the way from a simple idea or brainstorm with a teacher, to seeking out funding and material donations, to be able to see the garden come to life during the install days with the volunteers.
Q: What did you enjoy most about being on Kaua`i?
A: Of course, the beautiful beaches, landscapes, hikes, and weather. But also, being able to live on the westside with a Hawaiian family and work at a Hawaiian language immersion school. I think these experiences allowed me to see the more authentic side of Kaua’i that not a lot of tourists (or even full-time residents/transplants) get to see.
Q: What surprised you most about living on Kaua`i?
A: Learning about its rocky history with the U.S. and all the modern issues that have stemmed from it. When you live here, Hawaii isn’t the “paradise without problems” that mainstream society makes it out to be!
Q: What type of professional skills did you gain through your internship?
A: Grant writing, relationship building, volunteer management, cultural awareness & sensitivity, project management, networking, prioritizing & multi-tasking.
Q: How do you feel this internship helped with your future career and life goals?
A: This year of service proved that I’m capable of serving the nonprofit world in an administrative role. Before the term, I had pretty much just done direct service type work: teaching, lesson planning and farm maintenance in my previous AmeriCorps State role and mostly physical/manual labor in all of my other “internships” and summer jobs. It’s a really big confidence booster knowing that I can now add a whole new set of administrative skills to my professional repertoire.
Q: If you had advice for a future MK intern, what would it be?
A: Do your research about Hawaii’s history and all the social, environmental, and economic issues this place is dealing with before you come! I think there are way too many tourists and transplants who come here not knowing a thing about Hawaii other than it has beautiful beaches, warm weather, leis, hula girls, and is void of any problems and they just wanna live it up, take lots of cool Instagram photos, and just “take” in general.
The communities & people you’ll be working with have seen & dealt with these types of “mainlanders” for several decades now, so coming in with an “it’s all about me” approach is not going to serve you well, professionally nor personally. Instead, approach people and situations humbly, (again) educate yourself on issues that pertain to them, and LISTEN before spouting off ways that you think will solve an issue. When you make the focus of your time here “giving” and “serving” instead of taking, you’ll find that locals will really respond to that and you’ll really begin to experience what Hawaiian culture and aloha is all about.