From Templeman to Tamale: English graduate recounts voluntary experience in Ghana

Jenniah Brown, who graduated from Kent in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in English and American Literature, recently spent 12 weeks volunteering in Ghana on a voluntary placement with the Department for International Development (DFID), sponsored by the International Citizen Service (ICS). The programme he volunteered on partners the government run Non-Formal Education Division, which aims to improve the functional skills and the basic arithmetic and literacy of rural women.

Having been inspired by his journey, Jenniah is keen to spread the word on the benefits of volunteering;

There is often an air of ambivalence around leaving university, especially when considering the plethora of options available. I decided to apply for the ICS scheme, and fortuitously I was placed on a project that matched my interests, a 12 week education development project in Tamale, Ghana. So after three years stationed within my university abode, the Templeman Library, I was bursting the bubble and jetting off to a host home in Tamale.

What I actually did…

I was involved in project management, assisting the creation of budgets, leading the radio team, carrying out primary research in communities, building relationships with stakeholders, writing reports for future cohorts and external parties, all while aiding the facilitation of skills training in our community. In my spare time I worked with local musicians and was chosen to speak in front of the DFID at the British Embassy in Ghana.

Three reasons you should volunteer…

1) Learn a new culture through living in a host home. If you can stay in a host home then do so! You will be fully immersed into a family, authentically experience what it feels like to live in that part of the world and become integrated into a community.
2) Impact the lives of others for a short period of time. It sounds cliché, wanting to “make a difference”. However, when you look back on your life and what you have achieved, it is activities like volunteering, where you take yourself away from capitalism, friends, and home comforts, that you will treasure.
3) Invest time in yourself. You have you whole life to work, earn money and build a career for yourself. Get out there whilst you are young, impact the world, learn a new language, get practical international experience and then go home and hit the ground running!

Now that the project is over…

I want to work and save money; clearing student debt is a must! However, more crucially, I want to partner my skills in communication with a newly engendered understanding of developmental needs.

Volunteering has given me extraordinary life experiences, and offered me a more international mind-set that enables me to think about international development in relation to my own lifestyle and activities. I want to strive to create a career where I educate others, challenge institutions and raise global consciousness, all in the name of positive change.