There is always a learning curve when it comes to a new job. It doesn’t matter if you are in your hometown or in a different country. It can take weeks, even months, to finally get your groove and fit in with the pace of the office. When that job is in another culture, it can take even longer. The downside of being a short-term volunteer is you do not have that luxury of taking that time to fit in. That time is your entire stay so as soon as you start to get comfortable, its time to leave.
In my weeks of volunteering with 4H Tanzania through Youth Challenge International, I was able to settle into my office and to a certain point my role as a Multimedia Innovator. I still face daily challenges – primarily the lack of constant electricity and Internet connection and my slow pace at learning Swahili. Many people here, including almost all the children, do not speak English and overcoming these barriers has been a tricky task.
Along with two program workers from 4H, I was able to visit seven schools and teach the children some aspect of filming and multimedia. The two program directors – Gudila and Magdalena, were able to translate for me and I have been lucky enough that I can let the pictures speak for themselves. During this visit, I allowed the children to interview each other as well as manually zoom and focus the camera. They would laugh and seemed to be interested in the pictures that I showed them. My plan is to take those videos and edit them for the website.
I have written a proposal to design a new website for the 4H organization so after I leave they will be able to upload pictures and keep an updated blog on their daily activities and events. I really want to be able to leave them with a successful multimedia guide so they will be able to show the world the incredible things they are accomplishing here and try to raise more funds for them.
I was initially slated to volunteer for nine weeks in Tanzania but have received permission to extend my stay to twelve weeks. 4H has asked me to extend it for longer – perhaps six months – but that number is still up in the air.
Hopefully by that time, I will have beat the learning curve.
– Alyssa McDonald, Youth Ambassador, Tanzania, 2013