Santa Clara University student Griffin Garner grew up fishing and diving off the coast of Connecticut, taught surfing and ocean sustainability to kids in Panama, and spent a gap year working for a shark research lab in the Bahamas. So pursuing a Fulbright Scholarship in the landlocked country of Uganda may not have seemed like a natural fit. But Griffin, along with classmates Emily Petermann and Beshoy Eskarous, spent the summer of 2019 as Global Social Benefit Fellows (GSBF) working with NUCAFE, a Ugandan social enterprise that helps coffee farmers capture a greater share of the value chain. His team’s GSBF project focused on creating training videos to help local farmers learn best practices to increase the value of their coffee and build sustainability into their businesses.
Not only did Griffin find inspiration working with NUCAFE, but he came to love the natural beauty of Uganda and the friendliness of its people. He also credits his Miller Center fellowship with preparing him to design a nine-month research project for his Fulbright application, a task very similar to creating the action research plan for the fellowship. As an Environmental Studies Major (SCU ‘20), Griffin saw firsthand the effects of climate change on coffee farming in East Africa and focused his Fulbright project on developing tools to teach climate resilient practices to NUCAFE’s farmers. Although the pandemic has delayed his scholarship, he hopes to return to Uganda in 2021.
Watch Griffin’s video to learn more about his fellowship with NUCAFE and his journey to a Fulbright.
And check out our first-ever online annual report for stories, videos, and more on the incredible work of Joseph Nkandu of NUCAFE, along with four other remarkable women and men who are tackling poverty and building resilient communities through social entrepreneurship.