Leaving Damongo was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. My internship was, without a doubt, the most incredible experience of my life. To be honest, I have had trouble putting it into words. The experience I had in Damongo was one that could not be taught through books or in a classroom. It was something that I could only learn through experience, through my own encounters with people and the realities they face. While in Damongo I got to live as a Ghanaian. I had to deal with no water and showering from a bucket, I had to deal with doing laundry in a bucket on my doorstep, and I had to deal with the constant power outages leaving me with no light or power for my fan. Despite all of the hard times and exhaustion, it was the time of my life. I absolutely loved everything about my internship and I could not be more thankful. Allowing myself to enter into a new culture was difficult at the beginning, but something I truly wanted to experience. I participated in all cultural activities and went to town as much as possible to familiarize myself with the daily activities. By the end of my internship I saw many familiar faces and was constantly exchanging greetings as I walked through town. It was wonderful. My small-town experience was everything I asked for in my internship and I am so happy!
Leaving Damongo was difficult as I left incredible friends and (what I consider) family behind. I knew I was going home to a big city (Ottawa) where I could not walk down the street and greet someone without getting a strange look back. Although it happened- I was walking down the street and greeted an older couple and they were actually quite pleased! With that being said, there is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to bring the courteousness and the kindness that I was taught in Ghana back to Ottawa. Although I felt like my workplace little impact on me, I was wrong. Now that I am home things are different. I realized the difficult situations that I went through taught me how to deal with cultural differences and situations that I would not necessarily go through in Ottawa. I learnt how to adapt to certain personalities, recognize difficult situations, and how to deal with these problems. It is safe to say that my internship has helped me to grow on so many levels. I am now eager to get back to school and share my experiences but I am also motivated to find a job related to what I love to do. I have found a new appreciation and love for the environment through focusing on water and sanitation and I plan on furthering my education in that particular field. Living in Damongo has taught me a lot about myself and has narrowed down my interests- in an awesome way!
Similarly, although I felt a lack of motivation during my internship as I was dealing with several emotions and culture shock- I find myself incredibly motivated now that I am home! I am eager to continue to help the town of Damongo. They have a serious water issue and I am always looking to further my education on water and sanitation problems. I am also reaching out to various organizations to see if there is any way they can help or supply me with more details on the matter! I find that I have truly changed as a person since my internship. I have better communication skills and am taking a lot more initiative than I would have ever expected. I love the person I am becoming and I have my amazing internship to thank for that.
This internship has helped me to grow and develop as a person on a professional level and on a personal level. I encourage every future intern to do an international internship, not only to gain experience, but also to learn a little (or a lot) about who they are or want to be! I encourage you to take it all in, take initiative, and continue to stand up for what you believe in (even if your actions are small- they still go a long way)!
I will continue to pray that I will return to Damongo in the future. Damongo holds a very special place in my heart and I truly believe this is not goodbye, it is simply “see you later!”
Here are my two favourite quotes, enjoy!
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do”
– Helen Keller
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”
– Margaret Mead