Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pre-departure mayhem

I just finished my week of pre-departure training, and boy am I exhausted! Two days of human rights and team building at the JHR office in Toronto and three days of inter-cultural communication at the lovely Ramada Inn! Getting a chance to meet the other interns was quite an amazing experience. I felt like I was rubbing elbows with some of Canada's future media elite. National Geographic, NY Times, CBC and other impressive organizations were represented by the ten participants.

Hailing from all across Canada, from BC to northern Alberta, Ontario to the maritimes, we bonded quickly and began to work together to get ready for our various assignments. We've even started a facebook group to keep in touch and create a forum for group discussion. We're off to Ghana, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. 6 women & 4 men placed either in NGOs dealing with gender & media issues, or with newspaper editorial staff. I will be the only one working at a radio/tv station. Lucky me!

My visa & passport arrived on Wednesday after much negotiation, struggle, phone calls, faxes, emails and arm wrestling. Thanks to Emilee at JHR Toronto, and Ato, the JHR country director for Ghana, for their efforts! Also, thanks to Grace at the Ghanaian embassy in Ottawa, who's patience and willingness to help got it all done.

So all there's left to do is pack my bag, and hop on the plane!
I've got a mixed sense of pure unadulterated fear and unbearable excitement. The two are wrestling it out to see if I'll end up curled in the fetal position begging to be sent home, or bound and shackled and forcibly sent home for criticizing the wrong government official! Hopefully they meet somewhere in the middle.

I've received word that Doug Murray, my JHR counterpart who is in Takoradi now, has created a little apartment for me in the house that he is renting. I'll have a bedroom, toilet, shower, bar fridge and two burner stove-top. Sounds like heaven! In return, I'm bringing the latest edition of Vanity Fair and hand sanitizer.

I fly out this Monday night, and so have the weekend to relax, get ready and finish saying my goodbyes...

Next up... Akwaaba, Ghana!

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