Andy DeBoer '13
Andy DeBoer graduated from Calvin in 2013 with a major in GDS and an emphasis in Economics. After working for over a year with refugee youth at Bethany Christian Services and three years in program support at World Renew, he is now pursuing a Master’s degree in social policy and administration at the University of Chicago. His research interests include: immigration, community development, policy analysis and program evaluation.
Describe your path since graduation
I was really fortunate to actually start working the day after graduation with Bethany Christian Services as a youth counselor and supervisor in a transitional foster care program for youth from Central America. During my time with Bethany, I was able to directly engage with a very complex issue like immigration at the local level, while also building up skills in program support, administration, and Spanish. After 1.5 years, I transitioned to a position in the program support team at World Renew where I gained in experience in program evaluation, data collection and grants management. I am now living in Chicago, pursuing a Master’s degree in social administration.
What first sparked your interest in International Development?
When I was in elementary school, I traveled with my family to Guatemala to meet my future adopted sister. That was my first exposure to the realities of people in other countries, and I remember really wanting to “do something about it.” When it came time to choose a major/potential career path, I had several other international experiences that continued to reinforce this curiosity about what can be done to address the needs in other countries. I studied International Relations & Journalism at Michigan State for a year, and then decided that Development was a much more suitable path for me, so I transferred to the IDS program at Calvin.
How has your faith influenced your work in development?
Faith has played a central role in how I approach development. So many of Jesus’ words and actions were oriented around loving and serving the poor and marginalized. I believe effective development work can be an articulation of that love when it keeps the strengths and desires of those people at the center. Faith is also a unifying factor for so much of the world’s population, Christian or otherwise, and I think that creates some really interesting bridges to build off of when working with people in other contexts.
What is your most memorable experience in the field?
Last year I was in Mali for an evaluation of one of World Renew’s partners, and I was able to observe projects in food security and income generation. During my visit, there was a terrorist attack at a restaurant a few blocks away from where I was staying. This was a very harsh reminder of the threat (and unpredictable nature) of the violence people face, however it also gave me an even deeper appreciation of our partners and the work they do to address needs and build peace in areas of the world.
What advice would you give to current IDS students?
Talk with development practitioners whenever you can to hear their stories and learn about their career paths. Search those folks out during a semester abroad, an internship, and/or the Calvin alumni network (it’s massive). Those conversations will help you immensely with figuring out what a career in development looks like.
And if you’re like me, finally landing a job in the development sector won’t satisfy your curiosity – it will stoke it. Continue to read reports, books, and blogs like WhyDev.org and How-Matters.org to stay up to date with what people in the development world are talking about. Keep exploring, keep asking questions, keep digging deeper.
And most importantly: humbly remember we’re called to do this by a God who is so much bigger than us and works in ways far beyond even our best programs, policies, and intentions.
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