What drove you to apply for the Professional Fellowship program?
I’m adventurous and have always dreamed of working abroad. When I found out more about EWB and its passion for systemic change, I knew I wanted to be a part of the organization in some capacity.
What did you hope to gain out of the program?
Professionally, I wanted to offer my skills such as critical thinking, project management and leadership to the venture I was placed with. Personally, I wanted to know more about Africa and the role of NGOs in the fight to end poverty. I also wanted to empower others to help realize and help achieve their goals in life.
What was your top fear or inhibition associated with the program?
My fear was I wouldn’t have the impact or meet expectations of the venture I was placed with in 4 ½ months.
After living in Africa for four months now, what advice would you give to prospective ProFellows?
My advice is to just be flexible. If you want to plan, go ahead, but be prepared to adapt to the changes. During technical sessions we were relying on Internet for presentations, then the power would go off – no projector and no Internet. As a team, we would quickly adapt and improvise. It took me a few months, but I have learned to just go with the African flow.
What do you think you’ll bring back to the workforce after the program is completed?
Leadership qualities such as being empathic, providing and accepting feedback and active listening, as well as technical skills such as thinking in systems and creative problem solving. I also have a personal development plan with my manager back in Canada to work on a professional peer mentorship program that could be implemented in our company.
Can you provide your favorite photo from your trip thus far?
Every day on my way home from the AfriLEAD Institute, I ride my cheche (bicycle in Dagbani). As the sun sets, this photo tells a story of life in Tamale. It’s a quieter city. This plot of maize is main staple in Ghanaian dishes as well as a source of income. The red-brown soils soak the heavy rains.
Can you give a summary of a day in the life as a ProFellow in Africa and with AfriLEAD venture?
My daily life with AfriLEAD is what I think is similar to that in Canada. When I asked a returning ProFellow what it was like, she said it was just like going to work in Calgary everyday. I couldn’t imagine it was like that, but it is.
It’s about a 15 minute commute on my bicycle to the office. I stop and pick up fresh bread at the roadside. I am greeted along the way with “dasiba” (good morning in Dagbani) answering with, “nnaa.” I arrive at the office and open my laptop and check emails. It’s a very collaborative atmosphere. There is a big table and couches so the team discusses projects, makes adjustments, updates our plans, makes work travel plans and has a few good laughs everyday. For lunch, I go out with my colleague by the Tamale polytechnic campus and order either waakye (beans and rice) or banku with fried tilapia fish with pepper (hot pepper soup). The cost is 2 Ghanaian cedi, which is about $0.70 CDN. I walk over to my tailor to pick up my dresses they have made for me for my office attire. I then go home at about 5:00 p.m. and stop along the way to pick up some dinner at a chop bar (think fast food, Ghanaian style) or stop at a roadside vendor to buy tomatoes and onions for a rice or salad dish at home.