For anyone reading this – you’re stepping into a story partway through Chapter 1. Allow me to catch you up.
My name is Alycia, and I’m an Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Junior Fellow (JF) for the 2016 year. This means that I will be spending my summer working for one of EWB’s ventures. It also means I will be learning – a lot – and doing my best to share all I learn with my university EWB chapter.
Since being selected as a JF for this year, I’ve been through an extensive application and interview process to determine where I’ll actually be working. EWB National Office takes this process pretty seriously; they need to make sure they choose people who fit the various positions available in terms of skill set, adaptability, career objectives and a whole host of other factors.
Finally, after about 2 months of applying, wondering, waiting and nail-biting,
TODAY WAS THE DAY!!!!
I received an email this afternoon to inform me that this summer,
I will be working for VOTO Mobile, an EWB venture based in Ghana.
For anyone who doesn’t know what VOTO Mobile does, here’s VOTO’s website, and here’s EWB’s page about them. VOTO works to amplify the voices of the underheard and underserved through accessible mobile communications technology. In developing countries, there are many communication barriers between citizens and the governments/organizations that serve them, including language, literacy, government centralization, power dynamics, location (urban vs. rural), gender expectations, economic influence, and many more. VOTO seeks to provide communications channels between citizens and the organizations who are trying to serve them such that knowledge can be gained and shared, and public opinion can be understood.
Colour me 250 shades of excited about this placement. The position fits me quite well. First of all, I’m a huge advocacy nerd, and VOTO essentially provides people an avenue to advocate for their own desires and needs – how cool is that. VOTO is a tech company, and I’m quite familiar with this sector as an electrical engineering student with tech sector work experience. Furthermore, my position with VOTO will likely be research-based, and in the self-evaluation I completed as part of my JF training, I learned that the discovery of new knowledge is what makes me tick. Check it out – I’ll post my self-evaluation results below to show you what I mean. (If you haven’t done this particular self-evaluation by the way, I strongly recommend it, and you can find it here.) Finally, I’m very excited by the prospect of exploring a new culture in Ghana. This placement should allow me to experience both the rural and urban sides of this culture, as my home base will be in an urban area but I will likely be doing rural field research.
So, long story short, HOORAY!!!!! I’m so excited.
Between now and my departure, I will be doing a lot of training, learning and personal development. I may post some of my reflections from my learning here as well. Stay posted for updates about this whole experience. I can’t wait to see what happens next!