As a recent university graduate from Uganda, Norman Okello chose the CAEP program to enrich his career in horticulture and learn about the diversity of cultures. “America is the loveliest part of the world that I have had the opportunity to experience,” stated Norman.
Life in America
Outside of training, Norman was busy experiencing the culture of Wisconsin with his new friends. “I lived in Green Bay City, Wisconsin with fellow trainees of Schroeder’s Flowers Inc. in a house provided by our host, Charles Schroeder. I rode snowmobiles on Lake Shawano, went for company picnics at amusement parks, attended Summerfest events in Milwaukee and traveled to live music bands. Our host organized house parties and meals for us, took us on boat rides, and brought us to a Green Bay Packers game. I have experienced a high level of hospitality and kindness from everyone I’ve been in contact with. The people in America are excessively friendly beyond any of my expectations.”
On experiencing the different climate of Wisconsin, Norman said, “Winter was the most challenging thing I’ve ever experienced. It occurred to me as a shock to freeze even when the sun was up, but I adapted quickly and enjoyed the beauty of snow. I loved the waters in the summer and how accessible they are made to the public.”
His CAEP Horticulture Experience
CAEP provides the opportunity to exchange knowledge among diverse agriculture practices. Reflecting on the differences he experienced, Norman stated, “In Uganda, farming is more manual with modest or no tools at all. In America, farming is more modern in terms of technology. Also, farming in my country is practiced on an extremely small basis compared to the massive farms in America with irrigation systems, etc.
My host provided us all we ever needed. He delivered proper knowledge in all aspects of life including, business advice, counseling where necessary, and provision of all reading materials whenever required. I must say, I have had the opportunity to meet a role model.”
Some of the most valuable lessons Norman learned from his host at Schroeder’s Flowers Inc. included leadership skills, operating different machinery, customer service, building greenhouses, seasonal planting, and proper planning to match product demand.
“The days were sometimes exhausting, but I felt happy for the appreciation of my hard work by my supervisors and manager.
I would definitely recommend the CAEP program. This experience has impacted my life 100 percent. In a short time, I’ve learned a lot. My new knowledge has replaced everything that I’ve known about life and work.
I just want to thank CAEP administrators for choosing me to experience this program. I appreciate the fact that you put your trust in me. May you be blessed and continue bringing change in the lives of many other people.”
If you are interested in an international agriculture exchange program, visit caep.org to apply!