This post is a reflection by Coffee Kids Manager, Joanna Furgiuele, after her recent origin trip to Colombia.

Hello! It is an absolute pleasure to join the Coffee Kids team and the whole Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung family! Please allow me to introduce myself.

Personal Reflections: My experience in ColombiaMy name is Joanna Furgiuele and I am a native New-Yorker, though I have lived in several different regions of the United States. Prior to graduate school, I spent four years working with youth at Sierra Nevada Journeys, a nonprofit organization focused on experiential and science education, leadership development, and service. My first connection to the coffee industry came as a result of research for the completion of my graduate studies. I worked on a year-long collaborative research project on climate change and coffee communities involving Duke University, Counter Culture Coffee, and three coffee cooperatives in Latin America. In 2015, I graduated with a Master in Environmental Management from Duke University and a MBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School. Prior to Coffee Kids, I worked for a year as Sales Manager at Joe Van Gogh Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster in North Carolina, building relationships with partners in grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants. I look forward to bringing my experience to Coffee Kids and I am eager to learn and serve all of you!

To truly learn about Coffee Kids, we felt it was important for me to see the program in action. So, in my second week, I was on a trip to Colombia! I know last week we gave an update on the Coffee Kids programs in Colombia, but this week I would like to share with you my impressions directly from the field. And not to spoil the ending, but it was incredible, impactful, and highly motivating!

After a one-day stop in Bogotá, we boarded the plane to Pereira, Colombia, which is the capital of the Department of Risaralda. I was thoroughly happy to step out of the plane into 70 degrees, sunshine, and gorgeous mountains in every direction. Even as we drove rapidly through the curvy roads to the hotel, it was easy to spot coffee on the many hillsides. It had been nearly two years since I last visited Latin America and the colors, the vegetation, the language – it all felt so welcoming! It was my first visit to Colombia, so I couldn’t wait to get out the coffee fields and meet the people behind this world-renowned coffee!


Personal Reflections: My experience in Colombia


The next day was an early start at 6:00 a.m, which is not typically my most functional hour of the day, but since it was sunny, warm, and breakfast was served with a view of the landscape, I could only be thinking positive thoughts. We loaded up into the cars and took off, first on the highway and then up a steep, windy, mountain road. And oh my goodness, what a view! I couldn’t take enough pictures to do it justice, but I sure tried. About an hour and a half later we arrived at the Coffee Kids training taking place at the farm, Finca el Paraiso, owned by William Sepulveda and Gloria Pulgarin.

The youth were already there, standing in a big circle, and starting the activities of the day. As we joined the group for introductions, the enthusiasm was palpable. Next week I will explain in more detail the workshops and share a couple of stories with you.

To create a future, you must be able to envision it. With the Coffee Kids model we can support the growth and development of youth as coffee farmers, contributors and visionaries. When these youth feel like an integral part of their families and communities, and have the tools to be resilient, they will dedicate their lives to continuous improvement of themselves and each other.

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