Sunday, 25 December 2016

My first work experience

Written by ICS Volunteer, Elizabeth Mwale.

I first found out about this volunteer opportunity at the beginning of August 2016 when my parents told me about an advertisement that I was encouraged to apply for and sent off to YONECO by hand. After submitting my application I began to worry and was afraid of what the job will be like, how I could cope with other volunteers especially those from the UK?...So I decided to research through other previous volunteer's stories as well as additional information regarding the volunteerism itself.

A few weeks passed and I finally received a call back to congratulate me for getting through to the first set of interviews. This went really well and I went on to my second interview all the way in Lilongwe. When I arrived I was incredibly nervous and worried that I may not pass the second set of interviews. However, this proved wrong when a week later YONECO called me once again congratulating me and offering me a place to work in their team alongside other volunteers for three months. I was very happy after hearing this news and accepted instantly. I was so excited to meet new people and learn how to work well as a team as I had never had any opportunity before.

On the September 27 I arrived in Lilongwe alongside many other in-country volunteers and UK volunteers for an orientation session and preparations for the job. Whilst there, we were told to choose roles and I chose the role of community liaison. Something else I was worried about was how well I would be able to cooperate and communicate with the UK volunteers. My first day in the office consisted of learning how best to perform my role with my colleagues who would be taking the role on alongside me.

As time went on, despite the language barrier, I began to form an even closer bond with my two colleagues; Sarah and Anna whom were both UK volunteers, also allocated to the role of community liaison. Due to the UK volunteers not being fluent in my local language, I took on the responsibility of contacting the schools and communities in the local areas of operations. Although Sarah and Anna could not make the phone calls, they still had so much to offer by organising which schools and communities to get in contact with to arrange visits throughout the week.

One of the challenges we faced included being unable to get in touch with some targeted schools/communities due to the fact that their phones were often offline. This initially discouraged me and my colleagues. Nevertheless, we used this to motivate ourselves to push on and keep trying.

After a day of planning our session as well as booking many other schools for the same week; on Tuesday afternoon we arrived at our first ever Life Goals session. I was afraid that I would become be unable to manage speaking in front of a multitude of youths. However with the enthusiasm and team spirit, we were all able to achieve a confident, entertaining session. Six weeks down the line, I was now very used to my role and enjoy every aspect of the responsibilities that came with Community Liaison. I am also incredibly proud of the challenges I have faced and skills that I have developed such as being able to comfortably speak in public. Through the challenges that were faced in the first half of the placement that gave me courage for the last six weeks during my placement in addition to learning how to cope with other difficult tasks ahead of me. 

Now after this learning period am confident of doing more to my community through the role I played very much well. I am also happy as I have learnt some new skills and one of it being speaking confidently in public.

1 comment:

Dunreck said...

You have potential to do more for your community just practice the skills you learnt during your stay at YONECO