Interview with an Intern: Blaize Dankers

How did you hear about Hope in the Harvest and what attracted you to their mission? I heard about Hope in the Harvest when I was doing some searching online while looking at other missions. However, I was attracted to Hope in the Harvest because of the focus that it has on agriculture and faith....

Blaize Dankers is in her senior year studying Agriculture Business at University of Wisconsin River Falls campus. She interned with Hope in the Harvest in Liberia during January 2020.

How did you hear about Hope in the Harvest and what attracted you to their mission?

I heard about Hope in the Harvest when I was doing some searching online while looking at other missions. However, I was attracted to Hope in the Harvest because of the focus that it has on agriculture and faith. After speaking with Anna Glenn in Liberia, and learning more about their mission, I realized it was a great fit for me and decided to apply.

Before your internship experience, what were you most looking forward to and why? What were you most worried about?

Before my internship experience, I was most looking forward to traveling to Africa and growing my faith in new ways. On the flip side, I was slightly nervous that I wouldn’t “adjust” to life in Liberia well. However, that ended up not being the case and I loved immersing myself into a new culture

Why did you decide to come to Liberia? What were some of the main reasons you wanted to do this experience? 

I wanted to do some short-term mission work to explore if it was something I could ultimately see myself doing long term. For years, I have looked for ways to tie my passion for agriculture and my love for Christ together.

What did you learn as a result of your internship experience?

After finishing my internship, it really dawned on me how much I learned about Liberia, myself, and my relationship with God. Hope in the Harvest gave me a unique internship experience that helped me grow overall as a person. I didn’t just experience a new side of agriculture, but instead I experienced a new culture, a new way of life, a new level of worship, and a new view on the world.

What are some skills that you acquired as a result of this experience?

The most prominent skill I gained from this experience was the ability to let things come as they are. For the majority of my life, I have been a “planner”. I always strive to have my life figured out and my plans laid out in front of me. After being in Liberia, I realized that some of the best things in life come unexpectedly and we just have to learn to embrace change and differences.

How will you use what your learned from this experience in your future career or jobs?

This internship taught me to embrace everything that life has to offer. In future jobs, it will help me to adapt to my surroundings and seize the moment I am in. This internship taught me to be grateful for the opportunities I am given and to embrace challenges as they come my way.

What if anything would you do differently?

If I had to do something differently, I would have tried to go to Liberia during a different time. When I was at the college, the students were all home on their break. I would have enjoyed seeing the classrooms in action if possible. However, I got to experience some really incredible things during my time in Liberia and there isn’t much I would have changed.

What are you most proud of from this experience?

Personally, I’m just proud of myself for taking the leap and experiencing something new. Before this opportunity arose, I had never been outside of the United States before. I flew all the way to Liberia alone, spent a month in Africa learning new things, and got to experience things I never dreamed of experiencing. I am proud of myself for following a new plan that God had for me, even though it sometimes scared me.

What difficulties did you encounter and how did you handle them?

The biggest difficulties I faced were being away from my family and seeing the world through a different lens. When I arrived in Liberia, nothing could have prepared me for the amount of sadness and poverty I would witness. Ultimately, I kept myself uplifted by praying, calling my family/friends, and leaning on the missionaries for advice and guidance during that time.

Was there anything that shocked or surprised you about agriculture, culture, school people, etc?

There were lots of things that surprised me when I arrived in Liberia. The agriculture is completely different, the college was set up very nicely, and some of the people I met were absolutely incredible. I didn’t know what to expect before arriving, but my time in Liberia surpassed all of my expectations.

In what ways if any has this experience changed you?

This experienced changed me more than I even realized. I have grown in my faith, I have learned the true value of helping other people, and I appreciate the things I have in my life to a whole new level.

What would you say to someone who was considering doing this internship? What advice or recommendations would you give?

I would tell them to definitely go for it. With an experience like this, you truly have nothing to lose. It was a month of my life that I will never forget. This internship shaped me in ways that even I can’t explain. For advice, I would tell them to be open minded about the situation and work really hard to make connections with the people you meet. Lastly, embrace every second that you spend in Liberia because it goes by way too fast.

What was your favorite thing about your experience?

Truthfully, I loved that life really slowed down when I was in Liberia. In the United States, we are constantly worried about things that ultimately don’t matter that much. When I was in Liberia, I got to see the world in a new way. I had more time to do good for others, to pray and worship, and to block out the things in life that aren’t important. They always say the simple things in life are the most important, and I found that statement to be very true.

What is one of your favorite memories that you often share with people back home now that you have returned?

I have three favorite memories of when I was in Liberia. First, I spent two days in a local village that allowed me to truly better understand the Liberian culture and I met a little boy there named Elijah who made a lasting impact on me. Secondly, I attended a local church service one day and it actually brought me to tears to see the level of worship that was happening that day despite all of the sadness throughout the country. Lastly, I attended a Liberian wedding and ate the spiciest food I have ever experienced in my lifetime. I started sweating and it was an experience I will never forget!

How has the transition been back home to the US? easy/hard- why? 

Honestly, the transition back home was really hard. Before I went to Africa, everyone said it was going to be a culture shock, but I really think that coming home was more of a culture shock. When I was in Liberia, I began to see the things in life that actually make sense to get upset and worried about. Being in the United States again, all of my problems seem so small compared to the problems that others face in other parts of the world. I miss being in Liberia, I miss the people and the opportunity I had to truly help others. Although I am back home, there is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about the time I spent in Liberia with Hope in the Harvest.

How did this experience change the way you look at agriculture? Africa? poverty? your own country- USA?

It really just taught me to be grateful for the things I have and to continue doing the Lords work. There is tons of room for growth and opportunity in agriculture that will eventually help feed the world, but it takes obedient followers to make that dream into a reality.

How did this experience impact/grow/challenge your faith?

This experience did all of the above… it impacted, grew, and challenged my faith. There were many times where I stopped and thought to myself “why God?” Why would so many people be suffering and hungry while others have more than they will ever need? I asked God a lot of questions that I didn’t know the answer too, bt this experience helped me to become comfortable with asking those hard questions to Him but still being confident in the idea that God has a plan for everything and sometimes the plan leads to something far bigger than any of us can imagine. Overall, my time in Liberia was something that I will never forget. The stories I heard, the things I saw, the people I met… it all had a purpose and made a huge impact in my life. In the future, I hope and pray that God gives me another opportunity to return to Africa.

Do you know someone who might be interested in doing an internship in Liberia with Hope in the Harvest? Have them check out our internship page or send them our way! We’d love to help answer any questions they may have about this unique and exciting opportunity! Please have them reach out to us directly us via contactus@hopeintheharvest.org. Additionally, please share this opportunity with your networks by sharing this article or by sharing the internship page on our website. You never know who the Lord could be leading here next so SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!

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