Babati, Tanzania

18 juin 2019 | Valérie, Développement international et mondialisation, Tanzanie, Uniterra, Friends in Development (FIDE) - Communications and Documentation Officer

It now has been a little over 6 weeks since I arrived in Tanzania and 5 weeks since I started working as a Communication and Documentation Officer with Friends in Development (FIDE) in Babati. In a few words, FIDE is a local NGO using local expertise to lead community-based rural development projects in different regions in Tanzania in order to achieve a poverty-free, equitable and environmentally sustainable society. It works in various fields, such as agriculture, health, education and water supply, partners regularly with local, national and international organizations to help implement its projects.

Living in a very small town has had its pros and cons. On one hand, most people here only speak Swahili and the diversity of restaurants and shops is very limited as is the number of foreigners here. On the other hand, I get to interact with the same people every day, practice Swahili and eat more local food than I would if I were living in a bigger city like the majority of volunteers are. Altogether, this has made my integration into my host country easier and I feel as though I am experiencing the local culture more than I would have thought.

Having the opportunity to put to practice what I have learned in class for the past 3 years is truly rewarding. As I am currently developing a gender equality policy for my organization, I was grateful for the “Women, Gender and Development” course I took during the fall semester of 2018 as it provided me with knowledge about theoretical and practical approaches to women in development and issues women face in Southern countries to use for the aforementioned policy. Though, reading back on my class notes from different DVM courses made me realize how applying the theories we learn in class is not as realistic as it might seem. In the case of women’s empowerment, I have found that most theories fail to address the core of gender inequality which is in the private sphere and is engraved deeply in cultural norms and traditions. As pessimistic this might seem, it is the reality I am faced with. I am, though, finding smaller but still meaningful ways of supporting excluded groups (women, youth and indigenous) through everyday actions, whether it is buying from them at the market or giving them a forum by interviewing them on their past and current living situation.

Un mois et deux semaines…

17 juin 2019 | Alyssa, Développement International et mondialisation, Uniterra, Sénégal, Collectif des Groupements Associatifs de Pikine Ouest (COGAPO) Conseillère en commercialisation et marketing

Cela fait maintenant 1 mois et 2 semaines que suis au Sénégal. Je suis donc presqu’à la moitié de mon stage. Je me souviendrai toujours de cette expérience. Je me suis installée et me suis adaptée au Sénégal sans grande difficulté. Dès mon arrivé à l’aéroport, j’ai rencontré un autre étudiant qui allait vivre au même endroit que moi. Nous allions tous les deux travailler dans des organismes différents mais savoir que je ne serais pas seule était déjà plus rassurant.

Nous logeons dans une maison située à Dakar et habitée par des volontaires. Elle est très confortable et possède tous les électroménagers dont nous avons besoin. Il y a des agents de sécurité tous les jours et à toute heure qui veillent sur les lieux. Une dame nous aide avec le ménage. Les gens qui travaillent à la maison m’ont beaucoup aidée pour mon adaptation. Ils nous ont suggéré des endroits à manger, nous conduisent au marché et s’assurent souvent que nous sommes bien. Grâce à leur aide, je me sens encadrée et moins seule.

Les autres volontaires qui habitent avec moi sont aussi de grand soutien . Avec eux, je peux découvrir des coins très beaux du Sénégal. Nous nous adaptons ensemble à ce nouveau mode de vie et à cette nouvelle culture.

Du point de vue de mon travail, la description donnée dans mon mandat correspond exactement au travail que je dois faire. J’avais vraiment peur au début parce que je n’ai pas les connaissances dans tous les domaines de mon travail. Mes collègues sont très compréhensibles et sont très patients. Il n’y a pas une barrière de langue parce que, pour la plupart, ils arrivent à communiquer en français. Ils sont aussi tous des jeunes donc nous avons beaucoup de points communs qui nous rassemblent. Ils m’’intègrent très bien dans leurs activités et je sens que j’ai trouvé une deuxième famille en eux.

Même si tout se déroule bien jusqu’à présent, mes premières semaines ici ont été difficiles. Être loin de ma famille, le décalage horaire et la communication étaient durs à vivre. Beaucoup de fois je voulais abandonner et retourner au Canada. Être dans un pays avec une culture différente et où la plupart des gens ne parlent pas la même langue que vous peut être une expérience très ardue. Mais peu à peu, avec le soutien de mes collègues et des autres volontaires j’ai commencé à me sentir chez moi.

Les Sénégalais sont des gens très gentils, accueillants et généreux. Le pays a plusieurs coins paradisiaques et j’ai hâte de continuer à visiter les belles merveilles de l’Afrique. J’avais peur, tout au début, que mon aide ne soit pas nécessaire, mais les jeunes de mon organisation, avec leur dynamisme et leur envie d’améliorer leur communauté, me procurent le sentiment que je participe à un changement significatif et que je suis un des leurs. Comme mentionné précédemment , cette expérience est formidable et inoubliable jusqu’à présent et je suis impatiente de voir comment la suite de mon séjour se déroulera.

Le pays de la ‘Téranga’

17 juin 2019 | Guillaume, Développement international et mondialisation, Uniterra,Fédération des Producteurs maraîchers de la zone des Niayes (FPMN) - Conseiller en mise en marché de produits agricoles

J’ai toujours voulu voyager en Afrique, le berceau de l’humanité. C’est pourquoi j’ai décidé de saisir cette opportunité de coopération internationale au Sénégal, un pays qui m’était totalement étranger. Bien que j’aie participé à des séances de de formation de pre-depart, je ne savais pas tout à fait à quel environnement et quel mode de vie m’attendre.

En toute honnêteté, je ne ressentais aucun stress par rapport à ce voyage les semaines précédant mon départ pour le Sénégal. J’avais juste hâte de partir, mais je n’avais pas d’attentes particulières par rapport à cette expérience comme la culture sénégalaise m’était entièrement étrangère. Je voulais sortir de ma zone de confort et être déstabilisé.

Lors de mon arrivée au Sénégal, j’ai été surpris par la chaleur du pays! L’accueil chaleureux m’a particulièrement marque. C’est ainsi que je me suis souvenu du terme Téranga”, d’origine wolof. Ce mot en wolof signifie l’hospitalité. Les gens te saluent, et ce, meme s’ils te connaissent pas. Ils sont particulièrement ouverts et adorent faire connaitre leur culture ainsi que leur pays. J’avais l’impression d’être chez moi. Évidemment, j’ai été très bien accueilli à Dakar par le personnel du bureau du CECI.

Bien que le français soit reconnu comme la langue officielle au Sénégal, la majorité des locaux ne parlent pratiquement qu’en wolof. Ils adorent lorsqu’on tente de s’exprimer dans en wolof. Dans la mesure où j’éprouve de la difficulté à m’exprimer, je me sers d’Internet ou je demande a des collègues.

Ça fait un peu plus d’un mois que je suis arrivé sur le sol du pays de la Téranga. Durant mes premières semaines, je suis partie à l’aventure et j’ai visite des endroits remarquables. Lors de ma première fin de semaine, j’avais en tête de visiter l’ile de Gorée avec l’une de mes collègues. J’ai donc demande au gardien de la maison des volontaires pour m’aider à négocier un bon prix pour le taxi. Au Sénégal, il faut toujours négocier. C’est la norme quoi. En cours de route, j’avais une impression qu’on se dirigeait dans le sens oppose. Normalement, je me serais mis à stresser, mais “deep down” comme on dit en Anglais, je savais que l’on ferait de belles découvertes. C’est ainsi qu’on a découvert la charmante ile de Ngor.

Au bout de quelques semaines, j’ai appris à trouver mes repères dans quartier en me baladant dans les environs. Si je me perdais, je n’avais pas vraiment peur comme je pouvais facilement retrouver mon chemin.

En ce qui concerne l’adaptation dans un pays en voie de développement, je n’ai pas éprouvé de grandes difficultés. Toutefois, j’ai trouvé décourageant d’utiliser le réseau de transport en commun. En effet, on ne pouvait jamais être certain quand l’autobus allait passer. Bien que le mode de vie sénégalais soit particulièrement différent de celui du Canada, je me suis rapidement adapte. Au Canada, on valorise beaucoup la productivité alors qu’au Sénégal on vit le moment présent. Là-bas, j’adore l’importance accordée à la communauté que nous ne retrouvons plus dans notre société occidentale qui s’avère plutôt individualiste.

Je suis affecté dans la commune de Sangalkam située à environ 36 km de Dakar. La population de Sangalkam est d’environ 13 405 habitants. Je travaille au sein de la Fédération des Producteurs maraîchers de la zone des Niayes (FPMN) une organisation paysanne non gouvernementale qui est située à Sangalkam. Cette organisation a été créée dans le but de contribuer à la promotion, à la structuration et au développement du sous-secteur de l’horticulture dans les Niayes. Aujourd’hui, elle représente plus de 2 000 membres sur un potentiel d’au moins 30 000 agriculteurs actifs et sur un territoire agricole de plus de 6000 ha. En effet, le maraîchage pratiqué dans la zone des Niayes par les jeunes, les femmes et les hommes repose à 90 % sur des exploitations familiales et doit faire face à des défis de compétitivité et d’amélioration de la performance. Aussi, pour remobiliser son réseau, la FPMN développe d’importantes initiatives d’insertion des femmes et des jeunes dans le secteur du maraîchage à travers la mise en place d’une politique de communication communautaire au profit de ses membres.

Mon mandat consiste à appuyer la FPMN à organiser des formations sur la gestion de la qualité, le stockage qui sont adressées aux exploitants familiaux. Jusqu’à présent, j’ai fait des recherches et j’ai établi une liste bibliographique. Dans une semaine, je visiterai les huit unions membres de la FPMN afin d’analyser les expériences de commercialisation de ses acteurs. Le but de ces visites consistera à la collecte d’une gamme d’informations sur les stratégies de commercialisation des différents produits agricoles. Grâce à ces visites, je vais produire du contenu pédagogique pour l’organisation de formations qui porteront sur la gestion de qualité, de conservation ainsi que sur la mise en marche. À la fin de mon mandat, je serais en mesure de proposer des schémas de contractualisation afin d’améliorer le système de distribution des produits de la FPMN. Jusqu’à présent, j’apprécie mon expérience au pays de la Téranga.

Je vous donnerai de mes nouvelles dans les semaines à venir.
À tres bientôt!

Lima is an amazing city !

14 juin 2019 | Brigitte, International Studies and Modern Languages, Uniterra, Peru IPES – Promoción del Desarrollo Sostenible- Sustainable Development and Communication Officer

If one year ago, you had told me I would be spending summer 2019 interning in Peru, I wouldn’t have believed you. I am delighted with my experience so far, as Lima is an amazing city that has so much to offer.

Lima is shockingly MASSIVE and extremely chaotic. This is the thirst biggest city in Latin America, with a population of almost 10 million. It is divided into over 40 districts, all of which are strikingly different. I live, work and socialize in Miraflores, San Isidro and Barranco, respectively. These are lovely neighborhoods and I feel very comfortable living here. I have started surfing every Sunday morning and I go salsa dancing every Tuesday night.

Getting accustomed to life here has been easier than I expected it to be, despite having to adjust to working and living in Spanish. Although it is my minor, I still find it very difficult to conjugate certain words and to understand technical concepts. I come home everyday completely exhausted and I often get lost between French, English and Spanish. But, as someone who is determined to master a third language, this is an exceptional opportunity to apply my language skills to the context of a workplace. Since my first week here, I have become more comfortable conversing with Limeños on various topics, whether it be at work or in social settings.

I work as a grant researcher for a local organization called IPES (Promoción del Desarrollo Sostenible). They undertake projects in urban agriculture and environmentalism around the city. I have learnt that since the late 2000s, funding for Latin American NGOS and projects geared towards the betterment of impoverished communities in this part of the world have become scarce. In general, grantors, foundations and government programs tend to prefer allocating foreign aid to organizations in Africa and in Asia. I suppose that generally, the GDP of countries in Latin American are not astonishingly low. However, it is important to acknowledge that the wealth gaps in these societies are incredibly pronounced and need to be addressed. For instance, Limeños living in trendy Miraflores live lavishly, breathing in the salty pacific air and dining in some of the most renowned restaurants in the world. Meanwhile, less than a dozen kilometers away, others must live on less than $4 a day. In rural Peru, the living conditions are disgraceful and access to adequate services is non-existent. Due to the significant lack of funding, many organizations have been forced to close their doors and stop helping communities in need. In fact, IPES, my host organization, has seen their staff subside by 2 dozen people since their establishment.

As I have become more aware of this problem, I thought it could be helpful to create a guide for non-profits in Peru on how to direct more efficient and successful research for financing opportunities. My proposal to begin this project with Uniterra was accepted last week. I am currently following a 5-week online course that will allow me to produce this tool and I look forward to see how it turns out.

Adopter et être adoptée

14 juin 2019 | Dahlia, Conflict Studies and Human Rights, Mines Action Canada, Vietnam, Association for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (AEPD)

Voilà déjà plus d’un mois que je suis au Vietnam. Dong Hoi est une charmante petite ville côtière au centre du Vietnam. Quoique peu populaire pour les touristes étrangers, c’est une ville que les Vietnamiens adorent visiter pour ses fruits de mer et ses plages de sable blanc. Vivre dans une petite ville peu touristique est à la fois un défi et une chance. À Dong Hoi, peu de gens parlent anglais. Ainsi, la plupart des activités quotidiennes, que ce soit faire les courses au marché ou manger au restaurant, demandent davantage d’efforts. Or, c’est également cela qui fait le charme de la ville. En tant qu’étrangère, je reçois beaucoup d’attention : des regards, des salutations, des invitations à me prendre en photo, etc. C’est une expérience qui ne se vit que dans un endroit peu touristique. Au cours du mois de mai par exemple, j’ai eu l’occasion d’assister au mariage d’une ancienne employée de l’« Association for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities », l’organisation non gouvernementale où je travaille. La cérémonie ayant eu lieu dans un petit village à l’extérieur de Dong Hoi, je suis rapidement devenue l’invité d’honneur avec qui tout le monde voulait serrer la main, trinquer et prendre des égoportraits.

Dong Hoi est une ville accueillante où la chaleur est cependant accablante. Avec l’humidité, il n’est pas rare que la température ressentie se rapproche des 50 degrés Celsius. C’est ainsi que le midi, Dong Hoi devient une ville déserte. Plusieurs commerces sont fermés, la circulation ralentit, des hommes installent leurs hamacs à l’ombre des palmiers au bord de l’eau. C’est le temps de faire la sieste. C’est au petit matin ainsi qu’après le coucher du soleil que la ville est la plus animée. Vers 4-5h du matin, des gens s’entrainent au parc et, vers 20h, des enfants s’amusent à conduire de petites voitures électriques. Les baignades à la plage ainsi que les boissons glacées sont naturellement les bienvenus dans cette chaleur humide.

En plus de son charme, la ville de Dong Hoi est bondée d’habitants d’une grande générosité. Mes collègues de bureau ont été particulièrement bienveillants à mon égard. J’ai été invitée au restaurant à plusieurs reprises afin de découvrir la nourriture locale. J’ai également été invitée à manger en famille chez deux de mes collègues. Enfin, une collègue m’a même amenée chez la couturière afin qu’elle me confectionne une robe traditionnelle vietnamienne (Ao Dai). Il en va de même au bureau où mes collègues sont friands de connaître mon avis sur certaines questions et mes idées concernant plusieurs projets. Je me suis ainsi rapidement adaptée au mode de vie vietnamien et je me suis rapidement sentie chez moi dans cette ville chaleureuse.

Morocco

14 juin 2019 | Oumaima, Major in Criminologyand Minor in Women's Studies, Morocco, Forum of Federations

My name is Oumaima and I am currently interning in Rabat, Morocco with Forum of Federations. Before I share my experience with you all, it’s important to mention that I was born in Morocco and I immigrated to Canada 15 years ago. I visit Morocco at least twice a year but I have never stayed longer than one week. This internship will be the longest time I’ve spent in Morocco and away from home. The main reason I visited Morocco was to see my family and learn more about my culture and traditions.

Morocco is located in the northwest corner of Africa and is bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. I was always aware that Morocco is a popular tourist destination and known for its beaches, deserts, and mountains. I’ve been spending most of my weekends in Casablanca with my family. I’m grateful and thankful to have family here. Being around them has made me feel less lonely and they are always ready to give me plenty of advice on the lifestyle and culture here. Even if I am Moroccan, I still feel like a foreigner among the locals. I speak Arabic-Moroccan (Darija) fluently so I never had an issue with communication but oddly when I speak to locals they automatically pick up that I am not from ‘here’ and ask me: ‘Where are you ‘really’ from?’. I would laugh because I definitely look Moroccan but I guess the way I dress and my accent gives them the impression that I’m not a local.

Last weekend, Anna (the other intern) and me went on a weekend trip with my cousin and three other girls we met in Rabat. This was my first time travelling alone without my family and it was an experience that I will never forget. I visited northern Morocco: Tanger, Chefchaouen, Tetouan-Martil, Akchour, M’diq and Fnideq. Every city was so different from the others. Each city is so unique and even the people there had different accents. Chefchaouen is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen and all of the city is painted in blue. Every corner of this city is picturesque and wandering around with the girls was just so relaxing and peaceful. The first thing that attracted my attention was the doors, doorknobs and the different shades of blue on the same street. We explored almost the whole city and I just couldn’t stop myself from taking over 100 pictures within 3 hours. The architecture in Chefchaouen was something I have never seen before. The city is located on a mountain side and is surrounded by hills and mountains. The view on top of the mountain of the whole city was just breathtaking especially watching the sunset. I definitely fell in love with Chefchaouen and I wasn’t ready to leave after only a day of exploring. The beach in Tanger, Martil, M’diq and Fnideq were so beautiful. The sound of the waves crashing against the shore, the smell of the salt water, the blue sky above the sea were very calming and peaceful.

The moroccan cuisine is considered one of the richest in the world. Trying the food here is definitely something that I enjoyed the most during my trip. The taste of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and spices are just so delicious. I can’t get over how amazing cooking at home is with all the different spices. Hence, discovering my native land is something new to me and I’m looking forward to other weekend trips in the upcoming six weeks that I have left.

I hope you all get to visit Morocco one day and get to explore the cities here because I promise you that it’s definitely a destination you wanna add to your list.

One-Month Mark

12 juin 2019 | Pascale, Joint Honours in Anthropology and in Sociology, Uniterra, Nepal, Fair Trade Group, Marketing Intern

Last week marked my first month in Kathmandu, Nepal. I am spending the summer here working for a Fair-Trade organization as a marketing intern. This past month has given me plenty time to reflect on my perceptions and experiences in both my host country and my host organization.

Nearly every Nepali I have had the pleasure of encountering has been extremely kind and accommodating. My coworkers are exceptional, and genuinely seem to be interested in what I can bring to the table in my organization. Although their primary language of communication is Nepali (which often leaves me out of the loop of what is happening in the office), they make a sincere effort to invite me to their after-work events. This has allowed me to be present at a number of rituals and celebrations I otherwise would not have known about, which allows me to dive further into my anthropology training. I am very grateful to live these experiences.

However, as great as Nepal has been so far, I cannot help but be reminded of one of the things I hold dearest to my heart: nature. Kathmandu truly is a concrete (and brick, and garbage!) jungle, with about a million people crammed into only a few kilometers of space. The city feels quite packed, and as a result, nature cannot be seen very often from where I live. In the entirety of Kathmandu, I have only found two parks and trees are sprinkled around in no particular order, in concrete slabs. Hills surround the city, however the massive air pollution and dust prevent us from seeing more than a silhouette of the hills on a good day. It is one of the most polluted cities in the world, requiring us to wear masks over our mouths and noses every time we wish to walk outside. The few times we’ve forgotten to wear a mask, we have gotten sick due to the air pollution. Furthermore, garbage is thrown around at will, left on the side of the street for stray dogs to pick at, or simply burned.

Experiencing this reality only reinforces my values of preserving our planet and doing my part to use less single-use plastics. If anything, living in Kathmandu has made me want to dive more deeply into this field, something I am excited to explore more upon my return to Canada.

A passion to make change

10 juin 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.

When family and friends come together

10 juin 2019 | Anna, International Studies and Modern Languages(French Immersion), Forum des Fédérations, Maroc,

Ramadan in a majority Muslim country like Morocco is truly an incredible experience. I have learned so much about the country, the culture and the people who call Morocco home during my short stay here. I was very fortunate to be invited to a handful of Iftars, a meal taken after sunset in which Muslims break their fast. Each breaking of fast has similar dishes with some variations here and there. Many of the dishes are what I would call “figure foods” like little pastries, rolls stuffed with spiced chicken or seafood, and bread with egg, cheese, and turkey sausage. One traditional dish that was found at each sitting was Amlou which is a nut paste that is like a very thick and grainy peanut butter. I loved it and each home seemed to have its own recipe which meant that each Amlou had its own unique taste and texture.

Another traditional dish was a soup called Harira a tomato soup with chickpeas, lentils and chicken which was almost always served at Iftar. Some nights I had a hard time eating the soup because even at night, the air can feel hot and hot soup is the last thing I want when I am dying of heat. But I always had a bowl of it because it was so good! Anther dish is Msemmen a Moroccan bread/pancake which you can put things like cheese, butter, honey, egg and other toppings on. However, the most staple food of any Iftar are dates, dates are always the first thing to be eaten and is the food that everyone breaks their fast with. While I was not a fan of them before arriving, I have grown to love them. Iftar is a time when family and friends come together, and it is truly incredible when the majority of the country stops after sunset and eats together. I have never seen the streets out my window so quiet then between 7 and 8 pm.

My internship is in Rabat which is located on the Atlantic and the beach isn’t far from where I am staying so I enjoy visiting the coast often. I was fortunate to be invited to an Iftar on the beach and it was an incredible experience. The beach was pack with people who had brought their dishes and sat together with their friends and family. The whole beach watched the sun disappear into the ocean filling the sky with the most beautiful colours. Then a silence seemed to settle on the crowded water front as the beach waited for the sound of canons announcing the end of the day and after the canons, the call to prayer begins. Everyone immediately started to dig into their picnic Iftar and the music and laughter joined shortly after.

It was truly a magical experience since one immediately feels connected to all those around you waiting for the same thing and enjoying similar foods. Ramadan is a time where people slow down and take them time to appreciate what you have. Experiencing it for myself was so different from reading and hearing about it and I will never forget what it taught me.

We are more alike than we are different!

10 juin 2019 | Snit, International Development and Globalization(Co-op)(French Immersion), Forumd of Federations, Ethiopia, Intern

My name is Snit and I am a fourth-year student studying International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa. I am interning with an International NGO called Forum of Federations as a research intern for three months in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I have completed one month in Addis so far, and it has been everything I was expecting, but also everything I wasn’t anticipating at the same time. I am a first generation Ethiopian-Canadian, so this isn’t my first time traveling back to Ethiopia. However, this is my longest duration here, and the first time that I’ve ever lived here.

Consequently, I found that I had many assumptions for what my life would be like here, and I have been quite presently surprised. Addis (in my opinion) has been one of the most fast-changing capitals that I’ve ever visited, and it is so interesting to see the impact of globalization on the city. I am going to the gym, hanging out at malls and movie theatres, and also have the chance to explore the outskirts/country side of town, so it is kind of like having the best of both worlds. I have started to find little “Western” places around town which I call “diaspora/foreigner hot spots”, where I go to remind me of home whenever I’m feeling a little home sick. Yesterday I went to a really cute Mexican restaurant, and this week I’m planning on going to a coffee shop that serves iced coffee (I know, it shouldn’t be that exciting to have iced coffee, but in Ethiopia, most coffee shops serve traditional coffee only, so this is a little treat for myself).

Related to what I’m doing here, the project that I am working on is gender mainstreaming in federalism in Ethiopia. Similar to other biases I had, I never really considered all the people working on the ground for gender equality in the country, as oftentimes in class it is posed as almost a “Western” ideology. Yet, I have been pleasantly surprised by the incredible, hardworking, gender experts I have had the privilege of learning from and interacting with. I thought that my life would be drastically different compared to my life in Canada, but everyday I’m finding it more and more similar. I am always reminded that we are more alike than we are different!

For me, this experience is a little different than many other people on their internships because I have been to Ethiopia before, and my parents are Ethiopian citizens. Therefore, I have found that the adjustment has been really unique in the sense that I just assumed it would be easier because I have so many ties to the country, but it really has been a culture shock in many ways! It has been an incredible learning experience so far, and I am excited to see how my experience plays out for the remainder of my time here