This past week the 25 Junior Fellows attended pre-departure training sessions each day, for about 10 hours a day on average. The schedule may sound a little intense, and that’d be accurate, but in no way was it difficult to stay engaged! Here’s a quick breakdown of why I think that is!
Upon entering the house there was an oddly welcoming atmosphere. Each JF who came in had to re-introduce themselves, or at least say hello to some people they hadn’t had too much of an opportunity to meet at the national conference. In other settings there may have been some tension there, but introductions were smooth as butter, and conversations were bold and refreshing (like a cup of good coffee). This created a comfortable atmosphere to discuss our lives in some detail, our passion for EWB, and debate development issues until we lost our voices. Almost immediately we had become friends!
Secondly the sessions were designed to keep us engaged. Although I will be the first to admit that not all sessions fit with everyone, that is to say pre-departure learning is definitely not one size fits all. But I think this dynamic made those who enjoyed the sessions to engage actively, and allowed people on the fence to broaden their horizons somewhat. Near the end of this post I will list my favourite and least favourite sessions with a brief description of both. :)
Lastly the excitement! We’re all on our ways to Ghana, and nothing could bring a group more shred excitement than something like that!!!
Most favourite session: There was a session involving the roleplaying of various stakeholders in a situation in Pwalugu Ghana, involving and NGO and funding from Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). We each played the role of a stakeholder to gain a better understanding of the interplay of stakeholders’ interests, then we were asked to objectively prototype a solution for the problems in Pwalugu. I loved this session because it was extremely practical and highly relevant to our work placements.
Least favourite session: There was a session where we were told to draw out how a Ghanain might see us according to some stereotypes we think they might hold for westerners. This exercise was too much of an overgeneralization, and even offended some of the JFs. I think group discussion may have worked better, and maybe a better understanding of the fact that each Ghanain differs in his or her views of us. We want to try and immerse, not avoid our (perceived) stereotypes and pretend we’re not Canadian!
Ok one last bit before I go!
I write you now from Virginia where we are laid over for the night, because our flight from Newark to here was delayed causing us to miss our connecting flight. Luckily the amazing Jennifer Nowoselski handled the logistics of connecting us with a new flight on May 16th and free accommodations at Sheradon hotel for the night. Thanks Jen you’re the best homie!!!!!!
Much love to all my readers, and stay tuned for more blogging fun times!!!