Welcome to Guinea
I write this post from Conakry, the capital of Guinea and a (mostly) French speaking tropical city of around 2 million people located right off of the Atlantic Ocean. I will be stationed here for the next 3 months, while working with a peace and conflict organization called Search for Common Ground (SFCG). While I have only been here for 10 days, I can tell you already that I am having trouble choosing which of the innumerable bizarre and fantastic experiences I should share first. There have been many. Regardless I hope that you stop back in as my journey from Canada to Guinea continues to unfold and I write more about the Guinean culture, the country and my work here with SFCG.
With the assumption that my story is a fairly common one for many soon to be graduates (of both undergraduate and Master’s level programs) I’ll begin by explaining how it is that I went from Waterloo, Ontario to Conakry Guinea.
9 months ago, I walked into my first individual meeting with Dr. Thompson, the internship coordinator at the BSIA, with very little idea of what I wanted out of my required internship, other than the criteria that it MUST be “experiential” rather than “career” oriented. Coming into the school without any concrete research interest (everything is so interesting!), my post-Master’s career plan was similarly still in the “planning stages.” As a result, I thought that after 5 years of school behind me with a bunch of good grades but not a single international exchange experience to my credit, it was high time that I took a bit of a jump.
After a number of applications, follow-up meetings with Dr. Thompson, a patchy Skype interview to the SFCG country-director here in Guinea at 6am, and a 16 hour flight in which Air France bumped me up to business class (I like to think because of my good-looks,) I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I certainly can’t say that I didn’t doubt myself and my commitment to this plan. With no international experience, I wasn’t sure if SFCG, a peace and conflict NGO that works almost exclusively in conflict zones in some of the most unstable countries around the world, was the appropriate platform for my initial dive into the world of international interning. After 10 days learning the ropes of this sprawling, beautifully–chaotic city though, the uncertainty was well worth the reward! To all my fellow soon-to be graduates, take the plunge! As at least three of my co-workers have said to me “welcome to the real Africa” and I couldn’t be happier to be here.
Until next time,