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Q & A with HNGR Intern Andy Koetz '14

A business and economics major at Wheaton, Andy is now community outreach and development manager for the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization.

Andy Koetz

Andy Koetz '14 spent six months in Nicaragua with Wheaton’s HNGR program in 2014. During this time, he assisted a rural economic development organization in the work of improving the quality of life for small producers, he developed a computer tracking system for cocoa farmers in collaboration with team members, and he also researched economic outcomes of affiliation with the organization.

What were the most important things you learned from your HNGR experience?

Andy: The most important thing I learned was the immense importance of taking advantage of opportunities presented to me, even if they involve risk. I couldn't have learned all the Spanish I did had I not been willing to be in a context with no English speakers. I couldn't have seen such innovative ways to do the challenging work of supply-side economic development for the poor if I hadn't been willing to take on a tough internship. And I couldn't have seen the ways God is at work in the lives of Nicaraguans, had I not been able to spend time with them and hear their challenges and God's responses to their prayers.

How did it further your understanding of international economics and business?

Andy: I find myself with a much deeper understanding of the supply side of economics. As I worked with coffee and cocoa growers, I could see very clearly that in their production of commodities and raw materials of our consumer goods, they needed advocates to avoid being taken advantage of and used for their goods without reasonable recompense.

What are your career goals today, and how were these shaped by your time at Wheaton?

Andy: I hope to continue to work in the field of development for the poor, whether through NGOs or in the area of public policy. I was shaped very heavily by both the HNGR program, as well as by challenging economics courses like Economic Growth and Development and Health Economics. I was most heavily influenced by a few outstanding professors and staff at Wheaton, including a number from the Business and Economics Department, who challenged me to take principles I saw throughout both Scripture and the study of economics and combine them into a worldview and actions that could have a real impact on people around me.

Would you recommend an international internship for others, and why or why not?

Andy: I would wholeheartedly recommend an international internship, especially for business and economics students. The experience of learning another language, gaining cross cultural capital, and understanding different perspectives on work and development have been invaluable to me so far, and can only help more moving forward.