Two Months Later
Here’s hoping that you’re well and enjoying the summer sunshine outside – or whatever the weather, wherever you are in the world. Yesterday represented two months since we got back from Uganda, and had me thinking about what I’ve been up to since then, and the Return Volunteer experience so far.
Coming back to the UK in time for summer has been an absolute joy. Uganda was beautiful, so green and so different, but after being away nothing beats the rolling hills of our green and pleasant land. As I was in the very lucky position of having freedom and time, I managed to get around and explore the Scottish Highlands, Glasgow, Leicestershire, Shropshire, Edinburgh, Snowdonia, and finally am back in London, for good.
Return Volunteer Event
Every ICS organisation runs a Return Volunteer event about a month after returning, which is not just about debriefing and discussing the placement, but also about having a fun reunion with old friends! We were lucky to have the chance to spend more time in Edinburgh, where Challenges Worldwide is based. At the Return Volunteer event, CWW led some really useful discussions about Reverse Culture Shock, the Millennium Development Goals, and placement feedback. It seems we had all been making an effort to be a bit guarded at home so as not to ‘go on about’ our African experience – so what a joy to indulge ourselves in endless travel-based conversations! We also learnt more about the Action at Home, which must be completed within 6 monthsof returning. Action at Home is another step on the ICS journey, which sees volunteers from both countries continue their commitment to ‘active global citizenship’. The aim is either to engage with a social issue, or promote the programme and volunteer experience, to get others involved. For example, I will be promoting ICS to kids at my old school’s careers convention. Others are now volunteering for charities in their home cities, and some have spoken on the radio or in public.
After seeing friends and family, a real joy of being back in the UK has been rediscovering home comforts, hobbies and me time! Highlights include:
Read: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Beautifully written story set in the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, by the author who does that brilliant TED talk ‘The danger of a single story’.
Saw: National Theatre Live screening of Everyman at the Phoenix Cinema in Leicester. An interesting reworking of a medieval morality tale, with amazing electronic soundtrack.
Loved: Seeing my lovely Marylebone Community Choir perform some very colourful numbers with Sing Tower Hamlets. The concert raised money for XLP, which empowers inner city London kids to create positive futures for themselves. Both choirs are always looking for new members!
In September, I’ll be starting an MSc in Globalisation and Development Studies at SOAS, and can’t wait to learn more about the theory and academics behind Global Development. My ICS experience in Uganda was another confirmation for me that I want to pursue a career within the International Development sector, whether that be in projects or policy. Many of my colleagues in Uganda and the UK are going back to further studies, in a range of areas including Law, International Marketing, Economics, and Archaeology. Others are doing temp jobs or permanent positions, including one who has returned to Africa in a co-ordinator role with ICS – so a dream job for him! Although we are all on very different journeys, we will always have our Ugandan experience in common, and have been each been shaped and changed by it in different, yet ultimately positive, ways.