Leading the Future

Interns, supervisors, and PCVs pose for a family photo

Interns, supervisors, and PCVs pose for a family photo

Although I’m only 24 years old, I have never had a job that I loved. There were jobs that I didn’t mind and jobs that I downright hated, but never a job that I actually liked. That is, until I became a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV).

One of the best aspects of being a PCV is that you can choose the types of projects with which you will work. As a PCV in the Community Economic Development (CED) sector, I’m encouraged to work on projects that focus on economic activities, but I can also work on secondary projects in other sectors. Basically, if a project interests me, I can do it.

This past Saturday was the closing ceremony for the Leaders of the Future Internship Program. Nine students from the local high school completed the 5-week program with various organizations throughout Velingara. At the closing ceremony, the interns each gave a brief presentation on their experience, their supervisors said a few words of praise about each student, and we ate a big lunch.

Throughout the morning, many thanks were said. Interns thanked their supervisors. Supervisors thanked the PCVs. And PCVs thanked the interns.

But now I would like to take the opportunity to thank you, my friends and family at home.

A couple months ago, I reached out to readers of this blog for assistance in funding this project. The community contributed a portion of the capital, but we needed additional help to
cover all expenses. And you came through.

Thank you.

Thank you for helping nine motivated, intelligent, fun students gain experience in the working world. Thank you for allowing me to continue to do the job I love. Thank you for participating in grassroots development in Senegal.

Now, I’d like to introduce the interns I worked with throughout the program. It was a privilege to walk beside them as they learned about potential career paths. These men and women were already future leaders of their communities, but I was allowed to accompany them on their journey to success.

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Awa Kote worked with a hotel in hospitality. Customer service doesn’t hold a lot of value for people in Senegal, which can be frustrating for Americans. But with Awa working at the hotel, I was suddenly always met with excellent customer service.

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David Sambou worked with a campement in hospitality and agriculture. This was the first year of this project, so there were a few kinks to work out. When one organization dropped out at the last minute, David was very patient with me as I scrambled to find a new place for him.

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Oulimata Diallo N’diaye worked with a small American NGO focusing on Grandmothers as role models in communities. This girl always had something funny to say. Although she originally wanted to work in hospitality, her friendliness was an asset in the office.

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Mamadou Diallo and Abdoulaye Barry worked with a cotton manufacturer in the industrial and agricultural sectors, respectively. Both of these interns ended up with less than ideal jobs with the company, but they never complained. They both now know what type of job they don’t want, but still learned a lot from the experience.

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Moukouto Camara worked with a NGO focusing on adolescent and women’s health issues. She was able to gain a lot of field experience as well as in the office. Before the program, she thought she wanted to be a doctor, but, after working with this NGO, discovered that there are many opportunities in the health sector.

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Ze Djo worked with a pharmacy. He loved to practice his English with the PCVs, blowing our minds with his extensive vocabulary. No one could ever pronounce his name correctly, but he still gained experience in inventory management.

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Fanta Minth worked with an insurance company for teachers. She once told me that her father was her role model because he worked so hard. She wanted to follow in his footsteps and was one of the best interns.

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Terema Traore worked for a radio station. During her oral interview, she wouldn’t stop talking about how much she loved journalism. Whenever my family listened to radio, they always commented on her strong radio presence.

Over the course of the program, these men and women have become my friends. As they return to their villages for the remainder of the summer, I made them promise to stay in touch. Some will return for their final year of high school while the rest will be off to university. I feel like a proud mother.

I love my job.