AidData Summer Fellows Begin Worldwide Journey At “Bootcamp” Training

The 2016 Summer Fellows in Williamsburg, VA before departing to eight countries to support geospatial analysis and projects.

Various global aid and development organizations across the globe recently welcomed sixteen American students to serve as AidData Summer Fellows for 2016. Now in its fourth year, the Summer Fellowship program continues to provide opportunities for future leaders in the field of international development to gain hands-on experience abroad.

These students, from five US universities, will spend 10 weeks working with partner institutions in Senegal, Uganda, Ghana, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, the Philippines and Peru to promote the understanding and use of subnational aid information to assist in research and decision-making through geospatial analysis. By making relevant data more available and transparent, they hope to encourage stakeholders in these countries to use these resources to more effectively deliver services to communities.

Before departing for the various host organizations, the Fellows spent a week in late May at AidData’s office at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia for “Summer Fellows Bootcamp,” an intensive training regimen designed to provide the group with skills and resources that will be useful during their time abroad. AidData staff led presentations and training sessions, which included data literacy, data management and manipulation, geospatial analysis, GIS applications, and a presentation by William & Mary’s Reves Center for International Studies to prepare them for living abroad.

The Fellows using their time at boot camp to prepare for their diverse tasks and responsibilities with their host institutions.

Representing William & Mary, Clark University, University of Texas at Austin, Brigham Young University and George Washington University, this summer’s Fellows bring a diverse mix of experiences and focuses, their unique abilities contributing to a group of accomplished and influential individuals.

Caroline Davis, a rising senior at William & Mary, is now working in the Philippines with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) to include citizens in the audit of government projects. Reflecting on her boot camp experience while looking ahead to her assignment, Caroline stated: “I was able to enrich myself with innovative data analysis tools during boot camp that I can use in my work this summer, and was surrounded by other students that share a passion for international development (and all are in the same boat of preparing to work abroad for two months). These two things definitely make for a smoother transition into our fellowships.”

Brad Parks, Executive Director of AidData, speaks with The Fellows about AidData’s origins in a breakout session.

A recent graduate from Clark University with a M.S. in Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment, Ariel Walcutt has begun her work with Servir-Mekong in Thailand, a unique joint initiative between USAID, NASA, and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. Ariel will utilize GIS and Remote Sensing applications to examine environmental issues and their relation to development practices. Ariel looks forward to the experience: “I feel grateful for the opportunity to study this diverse region with SERVIR-Mekong.  I have a lot to learn about the needs of this organization, and I can't wait to get started.”

Throughout the summer, Summer Fellows will be providing updates from their roles via AidData’s social media platforms as well as on the First Tranche. To see more from their "bootcamp," visit AidData's Flickr page, and to learn more about the 2016 Fellows and their host organizations, visit their page on

Nathaniel Clemens is a Rising Senior at the College of William & Mary majoring in Hispanic Studies and is the AidData Summer Fellows Operations Intern. The AidData Summer Fellows program is made possible with support from USAID’s Global Development Lab through the Higher Education Solutions Network.

Tags: AidData Summer FellowsACDPUSAIDGlobal Development LabAidData Center for Development Policydata