My name is Julie, I'm 26 years old and I will be in Ghana to work as a Program Associate at Exponential Education. I grew up in Paris in a French-Swedish family and I have always been passionate about development issues and Africa, so after finishing high school, I moved to Burkina Faso to volunteer at an orphanage and a school. Ever since I was a child, I always had that country in my mind: when I was in primary school, a woman from an NGO active in Burkina Faso came to my class to talk about the famine that was ravaging West Africa and she organized a collection of rice for us to send there. Even though I was young, she really opened my eyes making me want to discover a continent that I did not know much about and when the opportunity for me to go to Burkina Faso came ten years later, I did not hesitate. Once there, I fell in love with the people, the nature and the culture.
I am very excited to go back to West Africa and visit another part of it. I have actually spent some days in Ghana during my time as a volunteer but the trip was short and I mainly remember all the banana trees and the 26 hour long bus ride from Ouagadougou with chickens at my feet. I always felt that I had to come back, that I had not seen enough of this beautiful country and I am now excited to discover what I didn't have the time to see last time.
After coming back to Europe, I started studying Economics and Management at the Stockholm School of Economics, which led me to Italy for my exchange semester and to Peru for my Master’s thesis. When I felt I needed a break from school I left for East Africa and volunteered and traveled in Kenya and Tanzania. I am a big wildlife fan so the East African national parks were a paradise for me.
After graduating this winter, I was drawn to Exponential Education because of its program model: when working with youth in Africa, I witnessed the many problems students are facing to continue going to school and the importance to fight poverty through education. I am excited to join the Exponential Education team in Kumasi.
I can't wait to meet my students! I hope to inspire them as much as they will inspire me. I also look forward to meeting the people in my village Antoa. My best memories from Africa are the long and random conversations I had with my neighbors and fellow staff members, under the open sky. I will never forget that one time when in Kenya and Peter, 11 years old, asked me how many elephants we had in Sweden (the answer is none, apart from in zoos I guess) - the surprise on his face after I answered was priceless and trying to describe a moose to him didn’t make it any more convincing. These conversations give you a lot of perspective and good moments of laughter!
Soon enough I will be learning twi, meeting my students and the rest of the Exponential Education team so stay tuned - I’m sure I’ll have many great stories to share with you!