I’m Emily, I’m 22, I’m fresh out of the University of Birmingham, and I’m Exponential Education’s new PA!
I’m both excited and petrified, I always thought that after completing my Anthropology and History degree, I would continue down the masters route along the lines of Anthropology and Development. Then along came the offer of a job in Ghana (my first time to ‘real’ Africa I might add- I’ve been to Cape Town and Marrakech before but apparently such touristy towns in the southern and northern most countries don’t suffice according to the Ghanaian lady I sat next to out of Heathrow.) The first thing I did when I learnt about the position was, naturally, to google how far away Accra was from London. I was surprised to find out it was only six hours… The same amount of time the train from my home town takes to travel to London, all the way from South West England. This was my excuse to sack the grad-scheme-in-London-thing, at a time when my peers were stressing about where in the city, they could afford to live. I comparatively looked up the weather forecast at that very moment in Accra: 28 degrees and bright sunshine. I then saved it to my phone and my mind was made up, the thought of a masters can be put on hold for now, my career in international development starts with experience, educational experience in West Africa and, as they say, the rest is history.
Having been a tutor myself, I understand the importance of mentoring, notably the relationship that develops between yourself and your tutees. As an academic tutor to people a mere year below me at university, there was no room for hierarchy, for a pecking order was not the purpose of tutoring, and this was university not school. There was mutual respect and a mutual keenness to strive to achieve results. Although my tutees will be some 5-6 years my junior, I hope that I will be able to bring to my programme the same mutual respect for one goal- academic results of junior students. After all, if there was one thing I learnt from my degree, my lecturers, my family and my friends, is that mutual respect resolves problems and allows trust to build, and if that is not a good place to start in education development in Ghana, then what is?
So that’s how I landed my first post-university big-girls job, and I start this week! I am already on my way to speaking fluent Ewe, (by fluent I mean fluent hand signals), and the Ghanaian English accent is like nothing I have ever heard before, so here is me about to throw myself to the wind, all guns blazing, bearing absolutely no resemblance to my own grammatical understanding of my own language in the hope that someone might ‘get me’, even if it includes hissing at strangers to get their attention, (yes this is a done thing). Heaven forbid I’ll try not get so accustomed to bring it back home with me. As for everything else, the UK could do with a few more smiley, very brightly dressed people, it was the first thing I noticed about Ghanaians.