Students Without Borders is a WUSC and CECI program that enables Canadian university and college students to participate in exciting, volunteer learning opportunities in South America, Africa, and Asia.

Wrapping Up, But Not Saying Goodbye!

November 29, 2014

I have just concluded the final week of my internship with WUSC as a Program Assistant for the Academic Leadership Program and the Student Refugee Program. This internship has been both amazing and difficult on so many levels for me. However, I have truly loved going to work everyday, especially the days that I travel to the Dzaleka refugee camp. Although the work at the office has been short, it has been extremely busy with preparation for the last few weeks at work. The SRP students are preparing to write their TOEFL and DELF/DALF tests, therefore I have been working to prepare the English students for their TOEFL exam. This preparation has included practice reading tests, listening tests, and practicing speaking English with one another. Hopefully, the students are well prepared and will do well on their TOEFL test in the upcoming month.

In addition, I have really been connecting with my students, gaining a better understanding of their lives, hopes, and struggles. However, I feel like it’s only been the last couple of weeks that I’ve been able to make these connections. The first two months of my internship was filled with uncertainty and trying to understand what was expected of me in my role as Program Assistant. The uncertainty prohibited connecting with the students to a certain extent; however, once I became more comfortable in my role I was able to build a stronger relationship with my students. In fact, I intend to continue working with three of my SRP students during my research as they have agreed to act as translators for me while I am conducting unstructured interviews for my Master’s thesis.

Regarding the ALP students, I have been providing sessions for the grade six and seven girls in the camp. My first session, beyond the introductory session, focused on leadership and teamwork and my second session focused on effective communication. Unfortunately, just as I have finally gotten the ALP sessions started my internship has come to an end. I can only hope that the next Program Assistant is able to start up the sessions with greater ease and speed than I was able. To support this hope, I have left a detailed report for the next Program Assistant regarding my recommendations for him/her on how to conduct the ALP sessions, what process is required prior to each session, and who to engage with regarding translation of documents and sessions. Hopefully, this will help to kickstart the next ALP sessions.

On my last day as a Program Assistant with WUSC in the camp, I threw a goodbye party with the students. This party was for the English and French teachers, the students, and myself! The teachers because their contracts are also ending this week, the students to celebrate their hard work in TOEFL and DELF/DALF preparation, and myself as it was my final day as a WUSC Program Assistant with them. I bought food and drinks and we had a proper celebration. The party was great and it was really nice to see the students relax and have fun with their teachers and myself! The students gave speeches and did stand-up comedy. They also gave me four bracelets reading We Love You, Ashley, WUSC 2015/2016, and Zikomo. Additionally, the students made me an appreciation certificate! It was very touching and thoughtful of them.

As previously mentioned, now that I have completed my internship, I am going to continue travelling to the refugee camp as I will be conducting my research for my Master’s thesis within the camp. My research is focusing on perceptions of socio-economic security between female refugees and refugee camp stakeholders. Therefore, I will begin recruiting participants, training my translators, and working to complete my research within the next three months.

Wish me luck in my upcoming research! Zikomo!

1 Comment

  1. Helen Ramier on December 1, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Building relationships doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build rapport with children and youth and, I believe, trust is equally as important (you can’t have one without the other). It’s amazing to me that you were able to make those connections in such a short period of time. This undoubtedly speaks to your level of commitment in which the students sense.

    All the best Ashley in your upcoming research.