As you likely know by now, I’ve accepted a year-long Fellowship with Engineers without Borders (EWB). Over the next year, I’ll spend my time launching new products into the Rent-to-Own Zambia portfolio.
Sept 21 marked Day 1 of my 3-week pre-departure training. We kicked off with introductions to the team (top left image). This fall, 7 fellows were being sent to Zambia, Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda. It was great that the team came from across the country with backgrounds spanning across engineering, business, law, and international development.
Our days were long with workshops covering a variety of topics including history, power, privilege, gender, and wellness. We also mingled with the board and staff (top right image) and tried out yummy Vegan Caribbean food in Kensington Market (bottom left image).
A session that stood out was on power and privilege led by the wonderful Nadia Bello from the Center for Human Rights at York University.The day began with a reality check. Many of us weren’t even clear on the distinction between stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. After we clarified this, we continued to discuss the roles that power and privilege play when working overseas. Nadia encouraged volunteers to actively challenge the belief that outsiders hold the answers or some special wisdom. We don’t. There are so many development projects that fail because of outsiders trying to make decisions without knowing how the system works. Co-creating a successful project requires building trust, observing, asking questions, and listening.