Zambia interns grow personally and professionally in Global Leadership Program

Zambia interns grow personally and professionally in Global Leadership Program

Eliot Dix James

They started their journey not knowing exactly where it would take them. But for ten students in the Zambia Global Leadership Program, it’s safe to say there were some life-changing experiences.

The students embarked for Zambia in May for three-month work placements. Participants were matched with mostly small, grassroots organizations in and around Kitwe, according to their skills and interests. It was a chance for them to not only develop professional skills, but also cultural awareness and learning.

“One of the foundations of the program is our focus on intercultural communication and intercultural competency,” says Scott Fraser-Dauphinee, who runs the program through Campus Life and Athletics. “We start that in the beginning and we bring facilitators and experts in that area to train students to be effective in another culture and to be sensitive.”

However, even the pre-departure training couldn’t prepare the students for everything. When Iloradanon Efimoff started teaching at a community school in Kitwe, she expected the students to be respectful of authority. And they were, until some of them found out they were older than Iloradanon.

“Although I was still an authority figure because I was a teacher, I no longer had age authority. Plus I’m a woman. Plus I’m a visible minority,” says Iloradanon, who has studied psychology and gender relations at Douglas and tutored at the Learning Centre. “So all these things kind of rolled together and the students were less respectful towards me. I had to strategize in order to better my classroom management skills and be creative to gain the respect back.”

While adapting to a new culture can be challenging, the rewards of making an impact are huge. Mia Rushton was matched with YMCA and Play 4 All to get Zambian girls, who don’t usually play sports, involved in activities like soccer. By the time the varsity soccer player left, girls in her program had the confidence to ask for a ball and get a game going.

Bruce Biro, who recently graduated from the Sport Science program, was placed with the Ministry of Youth and Sport in Zambia. He worked behind the scenes on a major soccer tournament, led workshops and created resource manuals. While his placement was a success, he says that just being immersed in another culture, getting a different perspective on life, and then coming home and reapplying that is a major benefit of the program.

“I would definitely recommend this to other people,” Biro says.

Applications for the Zambia Global Leadership program are open until Nov. 18. Information sessions take place at the Douglas College New Westminster campus in room 1808 on Oct. 30 from 5-6pm and at the Coquitlam campus in room B2090 on Nov. 5 from 5-6pm. More information about the program is available here.

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