david leege '86
Major: French, Political Science
Career field: relief and development work
Job title: Deputy Director, Program Quality & Support Dept
Employer: Catholic Relief Services (CRS) World Headquarters
In two to three sentences, please describe what your current position entails.
I provide technical support to CRS field programs in program development, microfinance, peacebuilding and capacity building/partnership.
What has been your career path to date?
I started my career in Mauritania as a Peace Corps volunteer, followed by work at the U.S. embassy there. I was hired by CRS in 1991 and have worked in Angola, Benin, Pakistan, Cambodia, Rwanda and Burundi before coming to CRS headquarters in Baltimore.
Which country(ies) has your work taken you to?
Angola, Benin, Pakistan, Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi
How did your interest in working internationally develop?
Classes in third world development in political science, economics and history at St. Olaf helped stimulate my interest. I also majored in French which is very helpful when working in parts of Africa.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work internationally?
Opportunities to study abroad were very important. I participated in programs that went to France and Costa Rica.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about working internationally?
Learning how to survive in a new country where you do not know people, the culture or the language.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
The opportunity to meet people from all over and experience different cultures and ways of life.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
It means taking responsibility for the impact of our actions on other people, and doing our part in trying to make the world a better place.
What advice would you offer current students interested in working internationally?
The most important thing you can do is to get some work experience in the countries or regions that interest you. You will learn so much more experientially than reading about something. This will also help in finding employment since most employers in this field look for that. You will also need at least an M.A. from a program that is well known in the development field, preferably with some practical, technical skills.
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