The transition into a CO Officer
West African life has been good to me. I can say that it has brought me more smiles and joy than I would have ever imagined. I feel like the right environment can give any person the peace of mind to accomplish their goals. A goal is what motivates us and the environment is what allows us. Sincecoming to Ghana I have written more, read more and built more things than I would ever have time to in America. Now, it seems like all is coming together. I prepared to join the team at GHEI as a Communications Office once I received the job offer. Finally, the work experience I had always looked forward to was here. I studied Marketing in undergrad so this was what I wanted to step into for some years now. The way I got here was not the usual but nothing is always as we plan. The time had come to roll up my sleeves and get to the business of learning my new role.
Upon arrival I was brought into the community as a new friend or more like a new family member. This stuck with me and though it felt good, I knew that people were counting on me to deliver for this project. We later got to the work of looking at the materials that needed to be managed along with a calendar of activities. I was getting a feel for what it takes to spread the word about an organization on a daily basis. I would have been happy to have done this as my first job out of college. Instead I have been on much more disconnected job sites. Staying connected is such a high priority of this office culture. This is an opportunity to grow as a team member and learning how synergy takes on different forms. For example if I want to talk to the Country Director of GHEI, I simply look over to the right of me because we are all working in the same office space. In the past, I would walk down stairs and through several doors to meet the head of the organization.
Living in Ghana is not new me. The way that I have adapted to every region has been different and this is yet another region that speaks yet another language. This is inherently part of the role as a Communications Officer, to connect with the community in their own language. My experience is that all regions will talk to you English in Ghana but, not all enjoy speaking English. I had my expectations that I would learn Twi at some point, surrounded in a village that we are always taking photos of and implementing new projects with could certainly help me learn. I have my mind made that learning to speak to the language with people will be an asset to my career so this opportunity forces me to learn a bit quicker. The reception to my little bit of language skills has been on and off so I have a long way to go before I travel across Ghana speaking in the national language. This is the part or the role that requires me to work outside the normal office hours. It is my responsibility to learn languages and my own personal goal to be fluent.
Early on the challenges are all manageable including the sometimes disappearing internet. I will not be able to stay online and multitask at the rate I normally would in Western office culture but this I an eye opening experience. We have all the tools to do so much in the United States that we have extra time to do our own leisure browsing at work. The fact is that Ghana is a country that doesn’t have the same internet privilege as other countries. This is ongoing learning process for me as I have been here a while but I have learned to be more “internet efficient.” Overall my past experiences have led me and those are the same experiences that I will use to carry me through my new, exciting and challenging role as a Communications Officer at Ghana Health and Education Initiative.