Student Gains Valuable Experience Working in France, Contributes to Better Community

Alero Oyinlola
Alero Oyinlola (C'22), Photo by Shelby Roller

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November 25, 2019 – Alero Oyinlola (C’22) ­­has been passionate about economic development since before college. With the help of the Davis Fellowship Program, she was able to work with an underdeveloped community in France and develop her interest towards a lifelong career.

Change for the Better

Oyinlola originally applied to do a homestay and internship with a packaging business in France to utilize her double majors in Economics and French. She was ultimately placed with the Centre de Communauté Arques in Arques, France after applying to the Davis Fellowship.

“This experience taught me that as much as one prepares for an endeavor, things do not always go as planned and we must adapt accordingly” says Oyinlola. “Looking back this was the best thing that could have happened. I was able to learn from the community in a way I never would have been able to otherwise, and this will help me immeasurably as I move forward.”

Working in Arques

Arques has limited external growth. Many individuals do not have jobs despite recent economic development, and people rarely leave. Through her work at the community center instructing children in English and working with members of the town, Oyinlola was able to research ways to improve programs by interacting with the community members. She soon realized that many of Arques problems were rooted in economic difficulties.

Oyinlola with cohort
Oyinlola awarded certificate for week-long course taken during her time in France

“As I dug deeper, I realized that without a proper economic development strategic plan, Arques would likely be unable to thrive because of scarcity of the requisite exposure that breeds innovation,” Oyinlola says. “In collaboration with my colleagues and the center’s partners, we developed different programs to drive economic development in the community.”

She spent a great deal of time developing the existing programs further by researching trends, conducting a comparative analysis of the region, and looking holistically at the implications of mobilizing the Arques community. 

Oyinlola also researched and created a report that outlined various ways that the center could become a social enterprise for Arques.  

She was able to develop suggestions for improving existing programs due to her time working directly with members of the community as she was able to learn directly what they needed.

“I could really see the gaps that existed in this community by immersing myself in it,” says Oyinola. “It is important to develop ideas and theories, but hands-on ground work is essential for the success of any project like this. That and listening to what those individuals were telling me.”

Going Further

Since she was a junior in high school, Oyinlola has been interested in economic development. After gaining first-hand experience in Arques, she hopes to take all that she has learned and apply it to countries in Africa.

“Eventually I want to go into development economics specifically in Africa to help resolve some of the challenges confronted by these nations,” says Oyinlola. “Through this experience, I feel more confident in my own skills, and more confident to take what I have learned beyond this one experience to my work after my time at Georgetown.”

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