Remote Training Reflection: Neelam Canto-Lugo

Mar. 4 | 2021

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Neelam-Canto Lugo was our first volunteer to transition to remote training. We didn’t know how it would work, but her dedication to her study and the people of Mali and Burkina Faso made it possible.

Her most recent training, Youth Entrepreneurship for Agriculture and Economic Development, was marked successful with a large, actively engaged group of individuals. Through her training she was able to have open discussions about culture and traditions that effect the economy, work through learning objectives, finish tasks in break out groups and have objectives to complete for the next session. 


neelam and bara kassambara posing for a selfie “This remote training was a wonderful introduction to the country, its people, its very interesting traditions, and its challenges and I hope to get the opportunity to travel there one day,” said Neelam.


She thanks her Speech student, Joseph Guzman, who conducted a training specifically on Zoom functionality as well as Dave Pierce who did follow-up training to dive into advanced features. Participants learned advanced skills such as whiteboards, break out groups sharing screens to take their own presentation skills to a higher level.


“Under the present circumstances created by COVID-19, I am glad we have the option of remote volunteering, but I miss the in-person connections and long-term friendships one has the opportunity to develop when in the country,” reflected Neelam.


Participants are now able to interact with ease while using Zoom for remote trainings and can focus their energy on the topic rather than the logistics. We were happy to be able to offer this training to equip our participants with ways to work around the pandemic guidelines. Zoom skills offer many possibilities to start their own meetings that offer new accessibility to audiences who may have issues with transportation and other resources. 


Unfortunately there can be downfalls remote training for participants that do not have a reliable connection or access to a device. Additionally, staying on a call for over an hour at times can test that connection further. Although it’s not a perfect solution, our team as well as participants continue to be resilient and work together to create the best possible learning experience.  


neelam with a group from mali as they sit outside a building that shows the missed connection due to remote training
neelam with a group from mali


There’s also the huge loss for our volunteers: not experiencing the human connection traveling offers. 


“These experiences add tremendous wealth to our lives and help us understand and value our shared humanity,” said Neelam.


Currently, we don’t have any timeline of when we will be able to in-person training, but until then, we will continue to offer our support and education through remote options. As cases continue to decrease in the United States and vaccinations are administered to the general public, we can feel promise in the air! We will always want the safest operations between countries so we will continue to follow all guidelines set in place by public health experts. 


Click below to read Neelam’s most recent training.