doi: 10.5191/jiaee.2014.20103

African Food Security Fellows’ Perceptions of Their Experiences in the United States: Reflective Journaling as a Way to Interpret and Understand an International Experience


Denise George

Tractor Supply Company

Brentwood, TN

M. Craig Edwards

Shelly Sitton

D. Dwayne Cartmell II

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK

Cindy Blackwell

University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS

J. Tanner Robertson

West Texas A&M University

Canyon, TX


            The study reports on a reciprocal exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State. It involved 14 Food Security Fellows, including seven each from Kenya and Uganda, who were community leaders, policymakers, and media professionals. The Fellows experienced a five-week training program on issues of food security and the unique role improved communication networks could play in reducing food insufficiency in their countries. During their exchange, the Fellows were asked to keep reflective journals chronicling their training experiences and interactions with Americans and their culture. The journal entries were transcribed and coded, and emergent themes were identified in concert with the study’s purpose and research questions. Established procedures to address researcher reflexivity and enable transferability of the findings were followed. The data analysis yielded 41 codes from which 11 themes were derived. The Fellows expressed a more positive attitude about Americans and the United States at the program’s end. They also described an appreciation for the role of youth development in agriculture and the need for extension educators, researchers, and university personnel to work together to ensure a nation’s food security. Future exchanges should provide participants with an internship experience instead of only job shadowing opportunities.      


Keywords: Africa, food security, international experiences, reflective journaling


Acknowledgement: The authors wish to acknowledge the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Professional Fellows Division, who provided funding for the exchange program described and made possible the study reported on in this article.




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