Pre-departure learning – Part One

Southern Africa JF group in our awesome motorcycle helmets!

It was a challenging week of learning, growing, and bonding. Every day was filled with 12-16 hours of workshops and sessions! I had the opportunity to learn about agriculture, rural livelihoods, safety, impact models, messaging, participatory approaches, integration, and power and privilege to name a few.

There are a lot of workshops that stick out in my mind and I want to share a few takeaways from those workshops. On the first day we shared our hopes, fears, and dreams about our individual placements with each other. It was a relief for me to discover that all the things I was excited and scared about were pretty much the same for everyone else. Having so much in common and a lot of the same interests definitely helped us all to bond.

On day three we were split into two groups to do a role playing exercise, a community and an NGO. The community and the NGO were meeting together to discuss how the NGO could invest in the community so that the people in the village could lead more sustainable livelihoods. Each person in the role play had a different personality, set of limitations, and agenda. I was a micro-finance specialist with the NGO. We then had to come up with a project proposal for the community and present it to a donor committee. What surprised me was that after our meeting with the community it was very clear what the community wanted for their village, yet as an NGO we decided to propose to the donors to fund us for something else completely. There were a lot of factors that contributed to our decision, but it was a little scary that we knew what Dorothy wanted, but decided that it wasn’t what was best for her. Was it really our decision to decide what was best for Dorothy? Or should we have worked more with her to figure out what she really needed and make that work for her, her family, and her community?

One of the things I learned from the messaging workshop is to keep my blogs at a decent length and find out what you, my audience, is looking for from me! Since I have so much I want to write about, I’ve decided to break this post in two, so more about my pre-departure learning in my next post. In the meantime, leave me come comments about what you would like to see in my blog, what you are interested in hearing about, and how you would like things to be structured. I’ve got some ideas, but I want to hear from you first!

Good luck to all my lovely JF’s as you wait to leave Toronto!

Love Maria

My attempt at grounding the peanuts


Trevor teaching Keith how to properly ground the peanuts

Kate enjoying nshima!

Lucas couldn’t quite figure out how to eat it



2 thoughts on “Pre-departure learning – Part One

  1. Great to see your blogs. I’ve subscribed! I agree with the comment about making the posts a decent length. As seen with all the EWB emails coming our way, I find blog posts can be hard to keep up with if they keep going on and on. As much as I want to know everything about your JF position, efficient wording definitely helps. Even breaking up the paragraphs help. So far you seem like a great writer, and I look forward to following your journey.

  2. That role playing workshop with the community and the NGO was probably my favorite part of pre-dep training. I was a young man who had moved back to the village from the capital after contracting HIV/AIDS, and I wanted to see IT training so that I could get a job that would allow me to make money for my family since I could no longer exert myself physically.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re so excited and it sounds like you really got a lot out of pre-dep!

    Can’t wait to chat about how to keep learning over the summer!

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