From the trafficked city streets, to the vast blue horizons over the Atlantic, my summer internship in Ghana took me through unimaginable landscapes, as well as across the path of future leaders, Ambassadors and genuine hardworking locals. I had previously done paid summer internships at the American Embassy in Ghana, working in the Community Liaison Office and the Regional Security Office, mainly performing office duty tasks such as organizing, data basing, scheduling and supervising summer camps and Embassy community events.
I had lived in Ghana for three years before starting at UNCG, but unfortunately this summer was the last time I would spend there, as my family has since moved to Zambia (East Africa) this fall. The bittersweet ‘final summer’ circumstance gave me a strong sense of motivation to leave my mark on the country I loved. Additionally, working in an office with a strong focus on communication and relationship building between US Embassy and Ghana was a perfect choice; I approached the summer with big dreams, enthusiasm and an open mind.
I chose to work in the Public Affairs Section this summer to further apply my skills, knowledge and college experiences into a more mature and assigned position. My primary assignment during my summer internship was a trip to the Atewa (At-eh-wah) National Forest Reserve, along with other colleagues from my office, local journalists and the American Ambassador. The meeting and tour was organized to push the efforts of making the reserve into a national park.
The walking tour through the dense, rainforest canopy was breathtaking (not only for its exertion),but for its waterfall, embedded deep in the trees and orbited by tens of butterflies.
Additionally, a topic the Ambassador brought to attention during his welcoming statement were the efforts those in the region should be making against the illegal hunting, mining and logging activity which has been occurring in the Atewa region.
It was an honor to be a part of such a movement of transforming the forest reserve to a national park, which hopes to ensure more security and strengthen conservation efforts for this unique ecosystem. And to think this was just the beginning.
My second significant undertaking consisted of a trip to the central region’s Refugee camp, called the Egyeikrom (Edge-e-ay-crom) Refugee Camp. The refugee camp is home to approximately 2,100 refugees, which predominately come from the Ivory Coast because of its 2010 political crisis, which left nearly 450,000 people displaced and dispersed.
Not only was I able practice my French to converse with some of the refugees, but I was also able to observe, learn about and participate in the evaluation of a funding project granted by the US Embassy.
Along with meeting the refugees, we were kindly welcomed and toured around the camp by the regional members of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHCR) for the camp. Further, we met and discussed with representatives of NGO’s (non-governmental organizations), also working to aid and improve the relocation and resettlement solutions for these displaced communities. I cannot begin to explain the amount of reputable connections with universally hard working people that I was able to gain from this specific endeavor.
Other adventures I had included press meets for upcoming artist exhibitions, attending a National Youth App (making) Contest focused on improving information technology centers in remote areas of the country and an office of-site retreat focusing on team building and further understanding of the office structure and positions.
Not only did I get the honor to work with some of the most commendable people I’ve met to date, but the Public Affairs team truly made me feel like a valuable member of the diplomatic community. I was able to explore the far reaches of the beautiful country of Ghana that I never thought I’d be able to, and probably wouldn’t have, had it not been for this opportunity.
As one of my first professional experiences, I couldn’t be more grateful for the warmth ‘Mama Africa’ had to share, the knowledge and skills my colleagues patiently taught me and the extent to which I realized how much of a difference I can make in this world.