I went to Zanzibar in September 2010 on a Youth Innovator program with Youth Challenge International. It was a spontaneous decision to apply. Although the thought of working in Tanzania again was always at the forefront of my mind, I had not anticipated heading to Zanzibar in the middle of my Masters degree. My thesis was focused on reconciliation in Rwanda, inspired by my own trip there a couple of years earlier. I was looking for positions post-Masters when I came across the posting for the Youth Innovators in Zanzibar. It was a whirlwind of application, preparation and departure. Before I knew it, I was on a plane with one of the other innovators. We met our third in Paris, rounding out our trio for the next 4 weeks.
Our task was to work with the YCI’s partners in Zanzibar to conduct research and planning for these sustainable partnerships. Working primarily with ZANGOC we created a work-plan for the organization. As well, we conducted needs assessment based research with several other YCI partners and related organizations.
Living and working in Zanzibar was a wonderful experience. The people were friendly, the food was delicious and the YCI staff members in Zanzibar were very welcoming. I learnt very quickly that flexibility in accomplishing our tasks was vital. Whether the language barriers extended the time of our interviews and focus groups (far beyond anticipation) or the loss of power hindered the finalization of our reports, we learnt to take it in stride. This enabled me to recognize some of the challenges faced by such organizations abroad.
The home-stay was also an entirely new experience for me. Living with a host family provided an insight into the daily life of some Zanzibaris. In the evenings we spent time with the family. The younger boys provided hours of entertainment with Uno and our home-stay mother provided us with tasty meals always accompanied by the most delicious tea.
Since I returned from Zanzibar, I finished my thesis and Masters degree and I am currently preparing for my second project with YCI, working with YES-Ghana in Accra, Ghana. I am excited to explore a new area of the African continent. My role is going to be very different and more independent, and I look forward to adjusting to the Ghanaian pace and way of life.
-Tammy Lambert, Youth Innovator, Tanzania 2010 and Ghana 2011