By Vicky Mogeni
Hans Fly graduated from Seton Hall University’s graduate program at the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations in 2011 and is now the Business Development Manager, Les Cayes at Catholic Relief Services in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Before graduating from the Whitehead School, he explored professional opportunities that would allow him to gain on-the-ground development experience while utilizing his language skills and applying concepts he had learned in the classroom to real life. Having spent his childhood in the Ivory Coast, he enjoyed living abroad, exploring new cultures and contributing to the humanity that all people share. Hans wanted to learn more about empowering communities from within and testing innovative solutions to development challenges hand-in-hand with local communities.
The International Development Fellowship Program with Catholic Relief Services presented the ideal opportunity to gain project management experience working abroad as a young professional while exercising solidarity with the most vulnerable individuals who are struggling to survive in underdeveloped regions of the world.
Although he is not a Catholic, Hans felt drawn to the universal principles of Catholic Social Teaching as demonstrated through the work of Catholic Relief Services. The responsibility to help improve the conditions of the most marginalized, either at home or abroad, was why he wanted to work in International Development from the beginning.
Within the organization, he has been more directly involved in promoting market-driven agriculture in collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture and the private sector. Thanks to investments in the coffee sector over the last three years, Catholic Relief Services has been able to revitalize the industry in the mountainous Beaumont region, where coffee once thrived. Six fledgling cooperatives have been legalized and grouped under a sales network that has now fulfilled contracts successfully with several international buyers. Coffee sales will soon be launched online thanks to the planting of 265,000 coffee seedlings and the regeneration of 3,066 hectares in Beaumont.
Hans attributes some of his success to the skills he acquired during his time at Seton Hall. One of the major skills he gained while working on his Master’s degree was the ability to conduct thorough and investigative research.
Hans recalls: “Not a day goes by where I don’t have to sift through reports on the status of various sectors in a country and develop proposals using that research to formulate a convincing argument for support from international donors.” As a student, he remembers the pressure of perfecting his research design before submitting the final draft to the professor.
Additionally, participation in debates facilitated by professors as well as the opportunity to speak in front of his classmates while giving presentations helped him build confidence in articulating points of view in public. “Since leaving the Whitehead School I have had to give numerous presentations in front of donor representatives as well as facilitate dialogue with different national sector stakeholders,” he said.
His future plans involve continuing with Catholic Relief Services, after four years of employment with them. He would also like to move back to West Africa or Latin America, or perhaps venture into the Middle East as Head of Programs managing multi-million dollar portfolios in collaboration with the national staff.
His advice to current Diplomacy students is to “be adventuresome and daring in what you do and don’t settle for the status quo. It is difficult to change the bureaucracies of the Unites Nations, the U.S. government or even NGOs for that matter, but the ideas you bring from your studies at Seton Hall are just what’s needed to revitalize these organizations and facilitate innovation. Be willing to put yourself in less than ideal situations because these are times that contribute to the greatest growth professionally and personally.”