Dustin Parks - Intern


Last year, Dustin Parks was an intern at The Mama Ada Foundation. He is a student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. We are so thankful to know Dustin as we are just sure that he’ll contribute awesome things to our world (and he is already doing so, even before his college graduation)!

We decided to ask Dustin some questions so that you could meet this inspiring student in the United States!

What was the most interesting part of your internship with The Mama Ada Foundation?

One of my favorite parts of the internship was getting to see, first hand, how people can come together to make a difference. I was very impressed by the grassroots nature of The Mama Ada Foundation, and the results that they generate with only volunteers. I was very grateful to have the opportunity to witness such big changes being made by a small and committed group of people. I’m not sure anyone will ever hear me say again, “Sure it’s a problem, but what can I do about it?.”

Can you name something that you learned about the people in Kenya?

While reading the charter for the Mama Ada Alumni Association I had a great realization. I felt inspired by these young people who are using what the Foundation and others have given them to now work for their community. It made me remember that even though there is an endless list of challenges in today’s world, there are also an endless number of strong, intelligent, and courageous people who are standing up to those challenges. My experience with The Mama Ada Foundation has taught me to have hope for the future of Kenya, and for people all across the globe.

Do you have any advice for the students in Kenya, since you are a student yourself?

Always keep an open mind to each new subject and consider how it applies to your life. I’ve found certain classes to be extremely challenging (or boring!), but it’s important to remember that each subject gives us a deeper understanding of the world. I’ve also found it helpful to think about school one step at a time. While the years necessary to graduate may seem impossible at first, they must be completed one assignment at a time. Time will carry on, and before long you will find yourself nearing the end of the road and with many successes.

What has been your favorite course in college?

Remedial Algebra! I was a terrible student in high school. I didn’t try at all, and was not interested in the education I was given. When I began studying at a local community college, one of the first classes I took was a high school level math class. Even though I always thought I was terrible at math, I was determined to succeed in this course. With a lot of study, I did very well, and was actually fascinated with the subject. It was a great experience, thanks to a great teacher.

What is the most challenging thing for you about being a college student in the United States?

There are two.

First: Feeling like I can’t do enough. I’m very committed to helping the world. However, I have to put my education first to do what I want to do in the future. While I know that I’ve made a difference in some people’s lives and done quite a bit to contribute to my community, I would like to do more for others.

Second: Making ends meet. College, and many other things, is very expensive in the United States. I don’t want to graduate with a lot of debt, so I’ve had to work my whole way through school. There have been semesters where I’ve worked a full time job, and attended full time school, and I have no idea how I’ve made it through. Like I said earlier, the key seems to be taking things “one step at a time”.

What do you hope for the world?

In a word: compassion. I hope that we can find ways to treat each other as brothers and sisters, and to work together toward a more egalitarian global society.

- Julie Keller/Dustin Parks