Jambo! My name is Daphne, and I spent 2 wonderful and eye-opening months in Zanzibar, Tanzania with YCI in the summer of 2011. It is hard to believe that at this time last year I was frantically baking biscotti, planning fundraising parties, and getting jabbed with all kinds of immunizations in preparation for the project. Though it sounds like a lot of effort (and pain), those pre-departure tasks quickly became an after thought as I boarded the plane to Tanzania.
Those first few days in Zanzibar were a whirlwind – meeting the other volunteers, getting settled in our homestays, exploring Stonetown, and hashing out the plans and objectives for our project activities. Having the liberty to define the format and content of the programming was definitely one of the most valuable aspects of the experience. It is a very rare opportunity that a well-established and wide-reaching organization such as YCI enables participants to have a relatively free hand in the process. While at times frustrating as any job can be, our team had the ability to interact and solve problems that any young person would be hard-pressed to find in a summer job.
Since returning from Zanzibar, I’ve continued to engage in the youth sector as an intern at TakingITGlobal (TIG). Those of you who are participating in an upcoming YCI project will recognize this web platform as the forum through which the YCI network communicates. In addition to hosting an online community of socially engaged youth, TIG offers tools and resources for youth to start their own activism projects as well as outlets for artistic expression and education. I’ve had the honour to work on a new project of TIG called YouthMovements.org, an interactive map which aggregates youth-centred initiatives around the world and enables users and organizations to communicate across the different sectors of the youth movement. It’s a big undertaking, but it is one that makes complete sense to me as someone who both struggled to discover ways to get more involved in my community and as a project facilitator with YCI.
The practical skills I gained while working with YCI have been an invaluable asset in my new role – my ability to work with a team, set goals, monitor and evaluate progress, and communicate cross-culturally were strongly reinforced by our work in Zanzibar.
Resume-building benefits aside, Zanzibar was an incredible experience in every respect. The food, the culture, the hustle and bustle and smells of the streets – not to mention the good friends and even better memories – will stay with me for a lifetime. I can’t wait to get back!
-Daphne Edmonds, Youth Ambassador, Tanzania 2011