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Introducing new program associate Georgina Paterson!

Hello Expo Bloggees! My name’s Georgina and it’s nearly two weeks since I touched down in Accra to be welcomed by our Director of Operations, Laura. I certainly feel akwaaba’d out, and that I won’t forget my Twi lesson on how to respond to this kind and ubiquitous comment by the friendly Ghanaians around Kumasi.

My role here is to train up in Kumasi with the other Expo volunteers, and learn all the facets, tricks, and potential problems of running an Expo programme before moving on to Kpando in the Volta region early next year. I’ll be working with Expo’s partner organisation OneVillage to set up the first Expo programme in the region, and making regular reports back to the team here.

As an African Studies with Development graduate I have been working towards working for a small NGO in West Africa with a focus on education and womens’ empowerment for some time. As you can imagine, when I was offered the role with Expo I was explaining it to everyone as getting my ‘dream job’! I graduated in 2012 and have been working towards gaining practical skills and experiences within a teaching and charity context that will equip me to be a useful volunteer in this kind of NGO. Last year I was lucky enough to travel to Zimbabwe to teach English for a (too-short) month.

These first weeks here have been overshadowed by the fact that there has been a teachers’ strike, a reminder that though idyllic in a lot of ways, Ghana has its share of serious political and systemic problems which act as a barrier to domestic and international work. This has meant that I’ve been so far unable to visit a working programme or meet any of our student tutors or classes. Fortunately the strike has now been called off and it will be business as usual, slowly-slowly, by next week.

On the positive side this has meant I’ve had time to settle in, visit the town and get a real grasp of the tro-tro network, and build my confidence with the basic Twi I was taught last week. There is certainly ample opportunity to practise, especially the greetings; I have been met with reactions ranging from a normal shop conversation to women dancing on the street and shaking my hand, laughing to hear me speak their language.

I’m looking forward to getting more immersed in the work and language here, increasing the group of people I get to meet and work with and then moving off to do it all again in Ewe in the Volta!

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