Archives - ‘Malawi’

Truly unforgettable

July 29, 2019 | Celeste, International Development and Globalization, Uniterra, Malawi, ArtGlo, Partnership and Networking Officer

I am finishing the last week of my internship in Malawi and these past three months have been absolutely incredible. I have never been so grateful for an experience and for all the people I have met. I am especially thankful for the organization that I had the pleasure of interning at which was the Art and Global Health Center Africa (ArtGlo).

This organization uses participatory arts and innovative methods to create social change in the field of gender, health, youth and human rights. I am amazed by all the employees as they are young, passionate and hard working. I have never been in such an interesting and dynamic workplace where I am constantly learning from my colleagues and the work that I was fortunate enough to partake in. I am so thankful for this organization and how it brought me such amazing people in my life and gave me an opportunity to do work that I am so passionate about. I was fortunate enough to have done fieldwork, which helped me better understand the context of Malawi.

One of the workshops I attended worked with healthcare service students and we discussed the importance of the impartiality of healthcare services and how marginalised groups, such as the LGBTI community, should be provided the same healthcare. It was really interesting to hear the discussion and the different opinions of the students through a political, legal and cultural lense. Some of the tasks that I completed throughout my internship was developing a gender equality policy, creating a partnership assessment framework, and throwing a partnership and networking event to build relationships with organizations that worked in similar fields.

I am extremely sad to leave Malawi as I have developed a life and routine here through the friends I made and the places I go. It has become natural to me to go to the market to do all my groceries, getting AirTel and eating nsima all the time. I also feel that through this experience I have developed independence and confidence in my abilities as I have faced several obstacles that I had to overcome. I feel that this experience has helped me become more resilient and I am so grateful for all that I have been able to encounter.

I am worried about going home as the past three months has changed my habits, my traits and certain things that I am used to and I wonder how this will fit in to my life at home. As I am approaching the end of my internship, I also realize that I may not be able to have a position that I am so passionate about for a while. I truly treasure the experience and look forward to the next time I enjoy a job as much my position at ArtGlo. I know it will be extremely difficult to say goodbye to all the friends I have made knowing I may not see them again. My time in Malawi has been short but truly unforgettable.

A passion to make change

June 10, 2019 | Celeste, International Development and Globalization, Uniterra, Malawi, ArtGlo, Partnership and Networking Officer

I landed in Malawi on May 6, 2019 and everyday there has been new challenges for me to face and reasons for me to be extremely grateful to have the opportunity of being here. I first landed in Lilongwe, which is the capital city of Malawi where I spent a week going through the WUSC training and familiarizing myself with Malawi. The capital city is busy and filled with life, as well as easy to navigate. One of my biggest fears travelling as a woman, is the different contexts that woman disproportionately face in different countries. However, I was immediately put at ease as I felt extremely safe in Malawi and everyone I encountered was kind, welcoming and extremely helpful. For example, if you asked somebody for directions they did not just tell you but they would stop what they were doing to help guide you to where you had to go.

My experience so far with Malawi and its people really has lived up to the name of being the Warm Heart of Africa. Majority of people also speak English so it is extremely easy to get familiar with the city and find your way around. Within my first week of being in Lilongwe, I was able to take public transit and walk around by myself.

After my week in Lilongwe, I moved to a Southern region of Malawi that is more rural called Zomba. It is known for it’s beautiful mountains and the lush nature. It is a lot quieter and is a slower pace. This move was actually quite difficult for me, as I have always lived in cities and am extremely familiar with the settings of a city. I was also sad to leave all my friends behind, as I would only be moving to Zomba with one other Canadian intern. It was worrisome for me to lose my support network and start over after adapting and familiarizing myself with being in Malawi, and having to start all over again. The first week being in Zomba, was extremely difficult as I had to learn and re-adapt and I felt as though I experienced culture shock to a certain extent. However, once I met with my partner organization I was quickly relieved and knew I made the right decision being in Zomba.

The Art and Global Health Centre is one of the most incredible organizations with the greatest staff. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to be surrounded by such driven people that have a passion to make change. It is extremely empowering, and the different projects that they have in place are innovative and ground-breaking. ArtGlo truly wanted me to have a great experience from the start and be able to learn as much as I can. They care a lot about my interests and passions and tried to cater my mandate around that which I am so grateful for.

Consuming myself in work and enjoying my everyday work tasks helped make the transition a lot easier. I quickly felt as though the organization became a new support system for me, which helped me quickly adapt. I truly believe if it was not for ArtGlo my experience in Zomba would have been really different. Therefore, I urge future interns to choose an organization that aligns with their passions and interests to gain the most beneficial experience.

Best of both worlds!

February 15, 2019 | Robin, Honours - Conflict Studies and Human Rights, Malawi, WUSC, Student Refugee Program

At this point I am approaching the half way mark of my journey here in Malawi, and I am already feeling the pressure to cram in as much as I can into this wonderful experience. It takes time to settle and by the time that you do, you realize just how short your three months is.

My experience hasn’t all been roses, but I am so grateful for all my trials and tribulations along the way. I came into my internship feeling overconfident in my abilities to adjust to life in Malawi and underconfident with my capabilities in my professional role. To my surprise, I found my confidence was a little skewed.

After living in Tanzania previously, I expected to have a relatively similar transition into life in Malawi. That was not quite the case! I expected my journey of adjustment to be like the smooth sailing I had in Tanzania, but I was met with challenges when it took longer to adjust to my environment and the people in it. Eventually I found my stride in the foreign environment, and I found my support system as well!

On the other hand, I was definitely feeling some imposter syndrome coming in knowing that I would be responsible for preparing refugee students to come to Canada. How could I possibly teach 23 young people about all they need to know about living in Canada in three months? Where do I start? Do I even know enough about Canada? I’m not a teacher, am I even qualified to teach? These anxieties are relatively normal when starting a new position, but I battled with my anxieties and trusting my capabilities. As I began lesson planning and teaching, I have found my groove and realized that I am not an imposter and that I am doing the best I can with my available resources. My time with the students has become my favourite part of my experience here in Malawi. They are bright young adults, who are exemplary examples of living resilience. My time with them has only solidified my career choices and maybe even altered my future employment aspirations.

In my short time here, I feel as though I have already grown immensely. With my previous internship in development, I was just thankful for the opportunity. As I continue in my role as an SRP intern, supporting office staff and getting to know other peers working in refugee services, I have come to realize that those dreams of working full time in development are not so out of reach. I can recognize my capabilities and the skills that I am developing everyday.

I find my experience extra special, as I get to not only immerse myself in Malawian culture, but I also get to experience a wider East African culture at Dzaleka, the refugee camp. I was overjoyed to find that I could enjoy the chipsi mayai and chapati that I had loved in Tanzania back at Dzaleka! I’m getting the best of both worlds!

For the rest of my time here, my hope is that I will continue to grow with my students, continue to push myself out of my comfort zone, and improve my Swahili and Chichewa!

Stepping out of your comfort zone

August 2, 2018 | Rebecca, Specialization - International Development and Globalization and Additional Minor - Economics,WUSC Malawi, Student Refugee Program, Intern

My internship experience in Malawi has taught me not only about who I am as a person, but has also opened my eyes to what I am truly capable of accomplishing. Going to a new environment without knowing a single person and being able to turn it into my home has taught me about the power of relationships. Doing a difficult job, being constantly busy and overwhelmed, but still enjoying every minute of it and making the work everyday count to a positive result has taught me about the power of hard work and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Going out into a foreign city and trying new things with people who are excited to share their customs with you has taught me the power of respecting other people’s culture, and seeing a world outside of your own.

When I applied for this internship 7 months ago, I was terrified. The thought of living in a foreign country, with foreign cultures, and people I did not know made me so nervous. It is so strange to think that now after 3 months here in Malawi I am surrounded by people I consider family and have built friendships that I will carry with me throughout my entire life. The friends I have made, stories I have heard, relationships I have built have all crafted me into a humbled, and aware human being. I see the world with new perspectives outside of my own. Malawi has taught me the power of human relationships, and the way they can make you feel at home no matter where you are in the world. Actually, most of Malawi’s economy runs on relationships, it is all about who you know. Your car is broken? You call your friend who fixes cars. You need a ride? You call your taxi friend who drives you each weekend. You are standing in line in the store? You talk to the person beside you like you’ve been friends your whole life. You arrive in the office in the morning, you greet EVERYONE. Malawi has taught me what taking the time to talk to people, know them, and genuinely care about what is going on your lives can do for you and also what it can do for others.

A friend I made here in Malawi told me, “maturity is seeing things in different perspectives” and I can’t think of a more true statement. This internship has showed me that experiencing new environments, learning how other people live, and truly looking at the world from a new perspective can mature you in a way nothing else can. Understanding that there is a world outside of your own, and there is more than one right way to do anything is essential to every aspect of your life. Malawi has showed me that things I always thought were right because they were normal to me, can be argued from a completely different perspective. Malawi has showed me that everyone in the world knows something that you don’t know, and you can learn from every single person you meet. Opening your mind to this concept will set you free to a endless education and a truly better understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.

The last life lesson I have learned in Malawi is that i am CAPABLE. I don’t know how many times I thought I wasn’t going to be able to pull something off, or finish the work I needed, or properly organize an event i was trying to do, but at the end of the day I did it. I accomplished things that if you asked me I could do six months ago I would have laughed. My internship in Malawi has taught that if you push yourself as hard and far as you can you really can accomplish anything. Stepping out of your comfort zone can truly show you your abilities and how capable you are as a person, no matter what you previously believed.

I am so grateful for the growth I have experienced throughout my internship in Malawi. I will value the knowledge, friendships and skills I have acquired here for the rest of my life.

I fell in love with Malawi

July 30, 2018 | Samantha, Specialization - International Development and Globalization and Additional Minor - Arabic Language and Culture, Malawi, Uniterra, Art and Global Health Centre Africa, Youth Leadership Officer

In less than 72 hours, I will have left Malawi. Wow, how quickly these three months have gone by. As I wrap up projects at work, say goodbye to friends and stress about how I am going to fit all the things I’ve accumulated into my suitcase, I can’t help but look back at these three months and think about how immensely grateful I am to have had this opportunity.

Malawi had never been on my radar and in fact, neither had this region in general. Although the international internship was one of many things that attracted me to uOttawa’s international development program, when I pictured myself going on one, it was always to Nepal or India, as I’ve mainly been interested in South Asia throughout my studies. However when the time finally came to apply, only one internship really stood out to me. It was with ArtGlo as a Youth Leadership Officer, in Malawi. Like I said, Malawi (or even Southern Africa) had never been on my mind but as I looked at the organization and their work with youth I definitely felt like that was where I needed to spend my summer living, working and learning. Spoiler alert: that was the position I ended up getting and I have not regretted it for one second.

One of the best things has been my internship itself. Art and Global Health Centre Africa (ArtGlo) uses participatory arts based approaches to health issues and I have found myself learning so much about HIV/AIDS prevention, program development, the trials and triumphs of funding raising for a small organization, theatre and a different approach to youth leadership than what I was used to back home. Speaking to youth engaged in ArtGlo’s programming about their dreams, talents, passions and strengths was so eye-opening for me and I am excited to continue to watch from afar and see what ArtGlo and it’s students will continue to do! And when people ask what I miss most about Malawi? My co-workers will be top of the list. Whether we were meeting to work out the next steps on a project, drinking tea on the porch in the mornings, dancing in the office on a Friday, laughing over chips and eggs, exchanging languages (French and Chichewa!), talking about music, driving and chatting during long days in the field or grabbing a drink after work, their energy, talent, humour and warm welcome is something I will never forget. Today we picnicked at the Botanical Gardens and had a staff talent show as my goodbye party and danced in the park; so fun, so ArtGlo.

Besides my work, I was surprised how quickly I fell in love with Malawi itself. From the beautiful landscapes to the colourful chitenge fabric to the economy based on relationships and connection with the people you buy from, to the kids who walked with me each day on my way to work, the culture, people and land of Malawi pulled me quickly. Specifically, the small and quiet town of Zomba has become a kind of second home, with it’s dominating plateau view and a community where you can’t leave your house without running into someone you know! I have definitely fallen in love with this place and the people I’ve met here. A few weeks ago, after a weekend visiting the capital, I found myself so excited to get “home” and I had such a feeling of peace and contentment when I first saw the Zomba plateau come into view! The first month I was here I really struggled with loneliness and some homesickness so it’s a bit of a relief and especially rewarding to now feel so connected and at home here.

As I leave this week with a now overflowing suitcase and a phone full of pictures and numbers of new friends, I know that from now on, Malawi will always be on my radar. And maybe someday, I will come back to this home again. Until then, I am excited to hug my loved ones, eat some food I’ve been missing and go for a long walk along the canal.

Canada, I’m coming for you!

My Life in Blantyre, Malawi

July 30, 2018 | Nicole, International Development and Globalization, Uniterra, Malawi, Girls Empowerment Network, Knowledge Management Officer

Hi all!

As July comes to an end, I am just now realizing what a busy month it has been here in Blantyre, Malawi!

The month began with a long weekend, which I took advantage of to go on a safari. I have always wanted to go on a safari and I decided I needed to appreciate the natural beauty of the region. I’m not sure what I expected when I went on the safari, but it definitely blew me away. We saw animals that I never expected to see in person and natural landscapes that I’ll never forget. Sometimes I felt like I was there looking at the cool trees rather than animals!

I went right from the safari to the capital city, Lilongwe, where I spent three days in my organization’s northern office. I was giving trainings on Excel, knowledge management, database management and file sharing systems. We also had several meetings about the work I have been doing and how we can integrate that in the northern region. It was a great way to learn more about the projects because teams came from all of our district offices in the North. I had given a similar training in the South so it was also nice to see everything come together for the whole team.

After my time in Lilongwe, I spent the next weekend climbing Mount Mulanje! We made it to the highest peak, Sapitwa, which literally translates to “don’t go there” as it is a somewhat notoriously difficult climb. Well, we went there. It was very challenging, but so worth it when we reached the peak! There is also a famous race in Malawi called the “Porters Race” where participants run up and down the difficult mountain path! By chance, we happened to be on that very route on race day. While it was a little nerve-wracking having to jump out of the way of the porters, it was cool to get the “inside look” of one of the biggest events of the year for the region and experience it from the porters side!

A little sore, I came back to another week of life in Blantyre. Life here is routine, which is so nice. I spend Mondays at Chichewa lessons, Wednesdays at a spoken word open mic poetry night, Fridays at Rotaract meetings, Sunday mornings at church and Sunday afternoons drinking coffee and reading in the sun. I meet up with friends, try new foods, drink a lot of coffee and meet lots of new people.

This last week, I spent 3 days at a girls leadership camp for teenage girls run by my organization. The theme was “empowering girls to stay in school and resist child marriage.” I was able to take photos to help with communications, which allowed me to observe a lot. There were so many lessons on leadership and empowerment, mixed with lessons on issues affecting girls in Malawi and advocacy. The girls were so engaging and determined to empower other girls and end child marriage in their communities.

As my life here comes to an end, I can’t help but be excited for my return, as I am sure I will be back soon. I am so thankful for everyone who has helped me over the past weeks and especially to my organization for taking me in and teaching me so much.

Live in the moment

July 25, 2018 | Sidra, Joint Honours - Criminology and Women's Studies, Malawi, Uniterra, Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS, Information Management Officer

As I approach the end of my mandate, I can’t help but reflect on all the things I am going to miss

The Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA) head office, Lilongwe

The Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA) head office, Lilongwe

here in Lilongwe. Throughout this experience, I find that I’ve learned so much through developing new skills at work, partaking in once-in-a lifetime activities and meeting so many amazing people. Though I do my best to live in the moment, I find I am itching to take it all in, because in a few short weeks I will be back in Canada.

I’ve never been a way for such a substantial amount of time, so I didn’t know what to make of a 3-month tenure abroad. I’m glad that I embarked on this journey with little to no expectations,

Lunch in Area 13, Lilongwe with WUSC employees

Lunch in Area 13, Lilongwe with WUSC employees

because it has ensured the life I’ve established in Malawi is organic. Every time I walk through the market, I find myself adding details to the mental image I’d like to engrain in my brain forever. I didn’t realize how attached I’d grow to people I’ve met
Myself with COWLHA intern, Josephine and Program officer, Tamala in Ntcheu

Myself with COWLHA intern, Josephine and Program officer, Tamala in Ntcheu

and mundane activities that I’ve never partaken in, like watching soccer games.

Personally, I’ve always been comfortable putting traveling on the back burner, because I’ve had other priorities. So I most definitely did not sign up for this internship to travel, it’s simply been an added bonus. A few weeks ago, I went into the field with COWLHA, where I attended monthly meetings and saw direct benefits of program initiatives. Last week, we went on a Safari, which further contributed to renewing my sense of curiosity. I am fortunate to have been born and raised in Canada, but this internship has granted me new eyes and perspective.

Photos of some of the Elephants we saw in South Luangwa, Zambia

Photos of some of the Elephants we saw in South Luangwa, Zambia

Through both my professional and personal experiences in Malawi, I have further ingrained a sense of responsibility within myself to continue to support development. I am constantly looking for ways in which I can be part of the solution and I feel much more equipped to do so. I have a newfound appreciation for all the opportunities I’ve been given and feel a general sense of empowerment.

Whether that be through traveling or getting involved at home Canada, this internship has fostered a desire not only to see more of the world. I look forward to the next chapter and seeking new avenues to channel the invaluable lessons I’ve learned.

Theory into Practice

July 25, 2018 | Rebecca, Specialization - International Development and Globalization and Additional Minor - Economics,WUSC Malawi, Student Refugee Program, Intern

This summer I received the opportunity to travel to Malawi as the Student Refugee Program intern through the University of Ottawa. This opportunity opened my eyes to not only an incredible youth-to-youth resettlement program, but also to the beautiful culture of Malawian people. Despite being one of the smaller countries in Africa, Malawi is rich with a culture all its own, and filled with kind and friendly people who are always there to lend a helping hand whenever it is needed. You cannot walk anywhere in Malawi without receiving a friendly greeting and a “how are you?”. When you see people talking on the street, it is difficult to tell if they know each other or they are just strangers talking because everyone is friendly to everyone no matter whom they are. This positive environment is also evident in the workplace. The WUSC Malawi team is full of kind, helpful and supportive staff who are always there to help interns such as myself with understanding and fulfilling their mandates.

As an international development student who has been learning about the refugee crisis for the last four years through courses, personal research, volunteering, and work experience, getting the SRP internship has been an extremely informative and valuable experience for me thus far. As my first job in the field, I have been able to connect the things that I have learned in theory, to the realities of situations in the camp. The student refugee program is an extremely special program in Canada. Working in the camp I have been able to witness first-hand how important the work done by the Canadian students to sponsor the refugee students is to the community. The opportunity that students are able to provide for their peers across the globe goes so much farther than the statistics seen on paper. The program has changed lives of individuals and of their families. The community is so proud of the students for working so hard to receive these opportunities and I have met many students who have come back for periods of time to share their talents and serve their community. The reception and the proudness of the entire community around this small number of students is very inspiring, and it shows me how much tangible work can be done on this development issue with simple, but effective programs such as this one.

In my international development classes in the last four years, we have learned a lot about the issues surrounding development ethics including imperialism, ethnocentrism, and voluntourism and in general the way that development projects can sometimes become a reflection of western culture imposed onto other cultures. Having knowledge of these concepts has helped me greatly in properly adjusting to my role as the SRP intern. My role has been to prepare the students who will be arriving in Canada in September, for life in Canada. As can be expected, there are many difference between culture in Canada and in African countries. Many differences can be surrounding topics that may be somewhat controversial or offensive to people, such as religion, LGTBQ, social culture etc. My studies in international development has prepared me for explaining my opinions without forcing them onto others. I am equipped to hear and respect others opinions I do not agree with, and have open discussions without assuming one culture is better than another. My education around these principles has enabled me to have open and informative talks with people of many different backgrounds and groomed me for understanding and respecting different ways of life. Throughout my internship I have been able to put theory into practice, and the experience and knowledge I have gained thus fair is invaluable to my education as a person and my career.

Malawi - Warm Heart of Africa

June 29, 2018 | Samantha, Specialization - International Development and Globalization and Additional Minor - Arabic Language and Culture, Malawi, Uniterra, Art and Global Health Centre Africa, Youth Leadership Officer

I’ve been in Malawi for just under 6 weeks now and I cannot believe that it is already nearing the halfway point of my internship! Time is going by quickly and I know already that I will be sad to leave. Currently, I am sitting on the back porch of my office around lunch time, watching a couple of baboons chase each other through the trees and over the roof of a nearby house. Here in Zomba, Malawi, monkeys and baboons are a fairly regular sight to see but I’m not sure they will ever lose their novelty to me!

I am working with a small local organization called Art and Global Health Centre Africa, or “ArtGlo” for short. They aim to use participatory arts and creative leadership approaches to tackle health issues in Malawi. They have three main programs currently running: Umunthu which trains healthcare workers on LGBTQ issues and non-discrimination in accessing health care, Make Art, Stop Aids (MASA Youth) which uses theatre for development and other art forms to educate university and secondary school students on Sexual Reproductive Health issues, and lastly, Students with Dreams, which provides leadership training and funding to university students who want to implement creative development solutions in local communities.

I feel lucky that I get to work a bit with different teams at ArtGlo. Rather than being relegated to one department, I am working with various counterparts to fill in the gaps and build capacity by doing things with others rather than for them. Mainly, my work has consisted of analyzing data from this year’s SWD program to make recommendations for improvement, working on funding applications with the communications team and helping develop cohesive toolkits for MASA. One day, in my 3rd week, I got to go into the field and see a MASA festival in action. The secondary students had prepared dramas, dances, poems, drawings and more and the festival was attended by their families, police officers, health workers, and the chief of the village, among others. Because the idea is based on forum theatre, the actors in a drama would pause their skit and ask the audience for input on what a character should do or how he should react to, for example, his wife telling him she wants to get tested for HIV. It was really interesting to watch these conversations play out (even with the English/Chichewa language barrier, it wasn’t too difficult to tell who was positively or negatively reacting). These conversations are controversial and not always easy but it’s been fascinating to learn from my colleagues and the students we work with how the arts are actually a powerful force in generating dialogue about important issues.

Regular life here in Zomba is quiet, as it’s a fairly small town. I live in the back room of a cake shop so sometimes on the weekends I just sit and drink coffee and chat with whoever stops by! I’ve also been enjoying hiking the plateau that dominates the Zomba skyline and taking some weekend trips to explore this beautiful country such as going on a game drive or visiting the famous lake! The people here in Malawi are also incredibly warm and kind; the country is definitely living up to its name as the “Warm Heart of Africa”! I feel like I’ve lucked out in being here as I never have felt overwhelmed by culture shock, language barriers or safety concerns. Of course part of this is from taking precautions but overall I feel that I’ve settled in quite easily and I am so enjoying my time here!

One more thing before I go is that last weekend, I got to go to a traditional Malawian wedding! My landlord’s sister lives abroad and had come home to have her Malawian wedding and I was invited to attend. I got a dress made out of chitenge from the market and participated in a part of the wedding called perekani. Perekani is basically the bride and groom dancing while various groups of friends and family (i.e. all the aunties, all the siblings, all the friends etc) are called up to shower them with money. It is quite the sight to see and even more fun to take part in! People bring lots of small bills (in Malawi a 50 kwatcha bill is worth about 10 cents Canadian) and spend literally hours just dancing, eating and throwing money. It was a cultural experience I feel very lucky to have gotten!

One-month mark at work

June 25, 2018 | Nicole, International Development and Globalization, Uniterra, Malawi, Girls Empowerment Network, Knowledge Management Officer

Hi all and warm greetings from Malawi, the warm heart of Africa. I have been in Blantyre for just over a month now. Actually, yesterday was my one-month mark at work. It’s so strange to see how a place can so quickly become a home.

I chose to come to Malawi for many reasons. I am studying International Development and Globalization, so I knew that my education could never really be “well-rounded” unless I had the opportunity to see development in action and to learn from those working at the grassroots level. I came to Malawi because I have been interested in researching the region throughout my degree. Most importantly, I chose this internship because I am working with an organization that works to keep girls happy, safe, and free to choose their own futures.

The organization I work with, Girls Empowerment Network Malawi (GENET) works in interventions to empower girls and increase their well-being. They are a staff of 31 who run about 11 projects of truly comprehensive programming ranging from promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights to making education more accessible to girls, influencing local policy on child marriage, and training girl leaders to run clubs that discuss girls’ issues/collective solutions and advocate in the community against child marriage. The work is truly incredible and I have learned so much about grassroots development, development programming, and the intricate cultural context in which development happens. I also work alongside the most hard-working group of individuals I have ever met. They will work as many hours on as many days as it takes to provide the programming we need.

My work here is in their knowledge management systems. I am designing a tool to track all of their organizational objectives from the activity level to create totals at the organization level. This has been a great application of my course work because it has helped me to apply my learning and it is something that I feel very capable of doing. I’m also working to implement a file-sharing system and cloud software, and doing some training sessions along the way. Needless to say, I’m very busy. I’m happy to be so busy (even if it is also stressful) because my co-workers are always on-the-go working between our regional offices and the field.

I have also been able to visit a few of our projects which has been phenomenal. As my job is not in programming and my Chichewa isn’t yet at a level where I can be of any help, I go to listen, observe and learn. It’s good to see the context in which we work as it informs the types of data collection I recommend.

As for my day-to-day life, I guess you could say I am in a routine. I go to certain activities certain nights of the week, I have a few good friend groups here, I know the city very well, and I feel comfortable. I found it a challenge to make Malawian friends in my first few weeks, mainly because it is not safe to be outside after dark so I spent a lot of time at home with my ex-pat roommates. It’s also tough to make friends when you don’t know normal places to hang out, etc. Thankfully, I have been able to make some great connections and build close friendships. I feel like I have a community here now.

It’s hard to think of leaving, but as I keep telling people, I’m only here for 3 months this time.