Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Job Qualifications

Team, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m seriously under-qualified for my job here.

Maybe that isn’t much of a secret.  This Junior Fellowship program is for university students, after all.  It’s for kids in their early 20’s who often don’t have much work experience to learn and contribute what they can.

Moreover, tons of work in developing countries isn’t given to qualified candidates.  One of my planning profs last year was about to go to Nigeria and Zambia for an economic development planning project and someone in the class asked, “Are you excited?”

“Not really,” he answered.  “International development types usually wouldn’t get the time of day in a western country, but in Africa everyone listens to them because they’re white.  I can’t stand those idiots.”

On a similar note, one of my good friends back home constantly teases me that I’m a dumb mizungu (white person) in Ghana for show-off.  “You don’t know anything about citizen engagement,” he says.”

“But I want to learn!” I whine back.

“And you have to go to Africa and take someone else’s job to learn?  Some African who’d be a lot better at your project than you?”

“I know, I know,” I concede.  “I’m part of the problem in this whole messed-up system.”

My main issues with my placement aren’t about citizen engagement, though; they’re technical.  Simply put, I’m terrible with computers.  One of my coworkers even asked me, “Have you always had someone else do your computer stuff for you?”

“No,” I said, embarrassed.  “But I’ve only done simple stuff.  I can learn programs, like AutoCAD, but I can’t fix stuff.”

As mentioned in a previous blog post, by USB stick got infected with a virus from someone’s computer.  I’ve never had a virus before.  When I explained the problem to my boyfriend, he said “Did you Google about it?”

“Oh… I guess that would be the next step.”

“That should’ve been your first step.”

Ugh.  Of fucking course.  So I Googled “Duplicate folders virus” and found out how to get it off the original computer.  It entails entering a command prompt, which I have no idea how to do.

Dumb mizungu.

[Side note: this post does not reflect at all on my Amplify coworkers.  They are amazing at their jobs.]


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