Traveling to Wisconsin in the middle of a frigid winter from Africa wasn’t easy for Julien. But with the warm and hospitable welcome his hosts showed him, Julien was excited for what was to come. “I was lucky to get such amazing hosts,” Julien shared. Read on to learn how Julien is embracing life in Wisconsin and gaining skills and learning about culture on his CAEP training program!
My name is Julien Gael Irakoze and I hold a bachelor degree from the University of Rwanda in the faculty of agriculture. I am participating in a CAEP Horticulture Program and I am training at Schroeder’s Flowers in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
I was inspired to go abroad because I wanted to gain new skills in horticulture and work with flowers. That’s why I applied to participate in a CAEP program in the USA. In comparison to my country, the agriculture here is more advanced and so far I am learning a lot.
My interest for flowers started back in my home country when I went to buy flowers; the seller told me that all the flowers she sells come from a country located in the same region as Rwanda. I was intrigued by this, so I did a little research. I found that most of the flowers sold in Rwanda are grown in Rwanda. Given that I am a vegetable grower, I decided to try and gain experience in the flower industry in order to learn more about them and try to grow them if possible.
The owner of the company Mr. Charles is an amazing man with a big heart and an amazing personality. He takes good care of us and he is a hard worker with a lot of experience. He likes to talk to people and learn about them. When we need help from him he is always there for us. Mr. Charles and his wife Mrs. Peggy took us to their cottage. The lake was beautiful and they prepared lunch for all of us. We also went to an art festival and a concert where a symphonic orchestra was playing.
Some of my daily duties at the greenhouse include taking care of plants, watering plants, cutting leaves, spraying pesticides, making sure the thermostats are well set and the heaters are running correctly in the greenhouse. I am trying to work as hard as I can and learn different things about flowers. Soon we will start the shipping phase, so there is still more to come! Truth be told, I am still learning. I know about different flowers now, the adequate conditions (temperature, soil acidity…etc) in which they can grow well, and the application of different horticulture products to maintain a good environment for the flowers. But I feel like I have more to learn!
The United States is a huge country with a lot of different places I would like to visit. There is a lot of big farms in the countryside. Farming in America is more developed than in my country and American farmers use more technology than Rwandans farmers. People here aspire to greatness, that’s why when they do something they try to make it as perfect as possible. American people are hard workers, I like the way they work with passion and dedication. The culture here is different from where I am from, here people are more open and the give their opinion, I like that. And -people here in Green Bay love football, they are true fans!
I would recommend CAEP to my friends and family because so far I am benefiting from this program and I think there is more to it than just gaining work experience, there is also the human aspect of the program where one is able to meet new people from different parts of the world. I am gaining knowledge too because supervisors take the time to explain to us or answer our questions. I am discovering new places too! To make it short I considerably benefited from this program.
CAEP horticulture program is well structured, the CAEP staff will help you all along your application process and they will find you a good host according to what you want to learn. If you to gain experience join CAEP. Be open minded, dare to travel, meet new people and make new friends from all over the world!