I graduated in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) from Newcastle University last year. During my degree, I was fortunate enough to spend a year living abroad: as a Teaching Assistant in Nantes, France for seven months, and as a Voluntary Social Worker at CENIT in Quito, Ecuador, for three months. I chose to study languages because I was always interested in learning about how people around the world live and communicate, and wanted to open myself up to a global career path.
I developed a strong interest in International Development issues during my degree, and became a keen member of theInternational Development Society in the final year. I started to explore career options within the Development field, and found out about ICS through friends of friends who had been away to Nicaragua and India. It appealed to me greatly (as the chance to travel always does!), but at this stage I was concerned with developing my CV and getting some really useful, challenging work experience which would make me stand out from the crowd in an incredibly competitive sector. When I then found out about ICS Entrepreneur, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity to develop professional skills, learn about businesses in emerging markets, engage with a completely different culture and make a positive difference.
So, after a summer spent picking strawberries, and five months as a Translation Project Manager in London, I decided to take the plunge and apply for ICSE. The thought of leaving a relatively new job and lovely bunch of colleagues at RWS (thanks again for the survival pack ;-)!), to embark on something completely different, was scary but exciting. It has been a whirlwind since then – the assessment day up in Edinburgh, fundraising over £800 for Challenges Worldwide, promoting ICS at Newcastle University’s International Development Conference, three days of placement training, leaving work and now the final few days of packing and preparation!
So what will I be doing in Kampala?
That’s a very good question and one I hope to update you on through this blog. In general, ICSE (International Citizen Service Entrepreneur) is a government-funded scheme which aims to bring together young people aged 18-25 with professional skills, to fight poverty and make a difference where it is needed most. It also aims to inspire young people in the UK and overseas to become active global citizens who are passionate about long-term community development. The scheme runs through many different charities, and across several continents.
I will volunteer with Challenges Worldwide for 10 weeks in Kampala, Uganda. I’ll be working alongside a counterpart Ugandan volunteer, on a project that supports small agribusinesses in the local community. As a team of 13 UK and 13 Ugandan volunteers, we will share our skills and experience with small enterprises to help them improve their profitability and boost the local economy, in a Business Consultancy role. I know that I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot of hard work ahead and am feeling suitably nervous and excited for departure on Friday! Bring it on!