Volunteer First Impressions

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First Week's Impressions​

Jeni Hollander is Center for Achievement's Communicaton Officer. Jeni is helping students and staff share their stories and gain confidence in all aspects of communication.

January 10, 2018
 
Much has happened in my first week (back) in Ghana.  Today has marked one week officially, and I look forward to the coming weeks where I become more settled and familiarized with places and people in this city.
 
My arrival was extremely smooth as I had a whole crew come to pick me up.  This was very comforting and a fun first night with our group decision to stay in Accra and leave for Ho the following day.  The rest of this weekend, after finally arriving to my new temporary home, was extremely relaxed.  I slept a much-needed twelve hours my first night in the volunteer house, and spent that Sunday also just relaxing.

The next day, Monday, was then the first day in the office and meeting all of the scholars and interns.  This was an exciting day but surprisingly I also found myself feeling kind of shy.  Everyone was very welcoming, though, and I was able to become involved in an activity where students were placed in pairs to then interview each other with six questions, and I would record them.  It was unfortunate timing that a bulk of this group I just met was leaving for school this week, but I am glad I got to meet them at all.

Tuesday was exciting because I went to a Pencils of Promise conference with Mercy about Parasites, Open Defecation, and Environmental Concerns/Sustainability.  The conference was all teachers, so Mercy and I stayed in the back, and there was a lot of great information and the speakers were mostly captivating and nice to listen to.  From just this conference, it seems this organization is doing extremely important work!  I was glad to be apart of this conference and would be interested in going to others in the future.

Throughout this week in my time at the office, I found tasks in helping various students with their sponsor letters.  I enjoy this type of work- editing papers and providing insight for structure and organization, so I was happy to be of this help.  I worked closely with Joseph (before he left for school), Mavis, Emmanuel, and Philomena.  At this point I believe everyone sent in their letters, which was the goal.

Wednesday and Thursday highlights were traveling to Lokoe school for the literacy program.  I sat in on Mercy’s class to merely observe and see how a class at Lokoe goes. Since it was the first day back from break on Wednesday, many students were excited and restless.  By Thursday, though, they had really calmed down.  Maybe they were also used to seeing me from the previous day, as I probably caused a significant distraction to everyone on Wednesday.  Returning Thursday was probably the highlight of my week, as the students had remembered me and then asked me if I would be returning tomorrow or the next week.  I admit I am a little sad to not be returning to Lokoe any time soon, because the kids were just so sweet and cute, but maybe there will be other similar opportunities that come up that I will be involved in.

The remaining scholars and staff here at Pagus have shown me much kindness and appreciation for the small help and suggestions here and there that I am giving them.  I am excited to get to know everyone better, and then to finally meet Meg in just over a week (I think).
 
I am looking forward to the next week and week after that, because I am eager to start feeling more comfortable and adjusted here.  As expected, this first week has not been a breeze mentally, but I know to be new only happens once in a transition like this.  After that, my whereabouts and relationships only become more familiar and strong.  I do feel really grateful to finally be here after almost a year of anticipating this huge leap in my life.  It has felt so distant for so long, and now here I am.  I am so lucky Patrice, Chery, Evance, and Nelson helped my first few days feel welcoming and comfortable, and I am lucky to be set up in a house in a compound with nicer accommodations than I had expected.  Now I just need to keep taking each day as it comes!
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