Marlee is YCI’s first “Go the Extra Mile” Scholarship winner, and is now one month into her 3-month project in Koforidua, Ghana. She’s sent us an update on her time so far and how she’s been adjusting to life in Ghana. Read on!
I’ve just passed the one month mark of my stay, yet it feels like it was just a couple weeks ago that I landed in Ghana’s hot, tropical climate and saw my first sight of where I would be living for the next three months. Preparing for this trip seemed as straightforward as getting all the necessities for packing, organizing travel documents, and mentally preparing for what my expectations were at the time.
However, I’ve learned that the best way to plan is doing exactly the opposite; learning to adapt to your environment and adjust your expectations accordingly. My degree in Criminology and interests in human rights, the state of children in developing countries, and the legal aspect of both are what compelled me seek volunteering opportunities like the ones that YCI offers. Being a newcomer to the international development field I thought that such an opportunity would allow me to gain experience and find out where my true interests lie.
So far my volunteer partner, Leigh, and I have taken the lead in developing workshops on substance abuse for youth in junior and high schools in Koforidua. With the help of the YMCA peer mentors, this month we’re tackling entrepreneurship and then sexual reproductive health after that. Working with the youth has been rewarding in many ways; from building up our confidence to talk in front of large groups to developing the relationships by interacting with the students one-on-one. We have faced challenges as well, but we are realizing that one of the most important parts of this work is learning from those challenges and improving ourselves and what we are doing.
As for living in Koforidua, by now we are quite familiar with the town and have become self-sufficient in daily life. Whether our day involves heading to the internet café to work, the market to buy lunch and other goods, or visiting landmark attractions like the beautiful Boti Falls, we have it covered with the help of the many hospitable Ghanians we have met. There is still so much of Ghana to see but we are taking full advantage of the experience, and of course the sun!
– Marlee Jordan Youth Ambassador, Ghana 2013