Challenges Worldwide ICS programme was the least thing on my mind as I looked around for something I could be doing while I was bored at home, jobless. The first time I heard about the Challenges Worldwide ICS programme was by word of mouth; through someone who was in the previous cycle. I was looking forward to working and staying with bazungu (white people). After our assessment everything sounded fun and easy, and we were all excited and happy to meet our UK counterparts.
My home counterpart Nikki is nice and cool (and slightly mad!), we get along very well, although we don’t spend much time together because we’re so busy with work! We have fun with the little time we have left in the day to spend together. We have our meals together which we sometimes prepare on our own, watch television (Disney channel) and listen to lots of English and Zambian music. We have learned so much about our diverse cultures and ways of life from our everyday discussions about our different cultures. Our host home is in woodlands, small, nice, lovely and quiet. Our host mum is a lovely woman and I have to mention she is such a great cook, we always have scrumptious meals. She is so passionate about flowers and she has a small, beautiful flower garden. Staying in a host home with a UK counterpart is more fun and nice than I actually expected but it has been challenging too.
My work counterpart and I have been working well together besides our everyday cross cultural differences. We spend most of the day together so we try to understand each other in every way we can. Practicing tolerance and compromise towards each other keeps us going without too many misunderstandings or actual arguments.
Cross cultural working and living has turned out to be more challenging than any of us (Zambian counterparts) actually thought, especially the first few weeks, one of the big challenges we have had working with UK volunteers is the pace! Work pace especially but not only that: walking and talking as well. It’s fair to say that Zambians generally enjoy an easy pace with life (we have nothing to rush for) and our Zambian work culture is quite relaxed rather than bad or lazy as it can sometimes seem. Considering the different paces of work (and life) we have, working together has been quite a challenge for both parties. The Host Home seems to have been less of a challenge than we thought but the reality is that we miss our homes a lot. We have quite tight family ties and out of solidarity to our UK counterparts, we rarely visit.
We have had lots to learn about our diverse working cultures and working and living together has helped us to learn more about our different cultures.
Above all I have had a great experience in the ICS programme so far; new friends, new work experiences, great opportunities and I’ve learnt so many lessons.