Becki Curtis shares her experiences as she undertakes an internship with Jersey Overseas Aid and Practical Action
New Beginnings: Introducing JOA!
Now that a hectic October has come to an end, it has finally sunk in that this is real; I am actually working with Jersey Overseas Aid and Practical Action, with the dream of carving out a career in international development.
For those unfamiliar, Practical Action is a global innovator, inspiring people to discover and adopt ingenious, practical ways to free themselves from poverty and disadvantage. Based in Rugby, UK, Practical Action works around the world, including Nepal, where currently two projects are underway in association with JOA. During the course of this thirteen month internship I will be based in Jersey and Rugby, as well as undertaking a six month overseas placement on a Practical Action project. For now though, I am just at the beginning of this journey, working in Jersey at the JOA office to better understand the role of a donor organisation and the JOA’s unique place in Jersey.
I began this internship three weeks ago with an MA in Middle Eastern Studies, voluntary experience in Ghana, Nicaragua and Calais, and a three year career in the legal profession. I have always wanted to pursue a career in development but after years of working every university holiday and still never having the funds to cover the cost of gaining essential experience in the industry, the path forward was difficult to envision. Fortunately, the chance to apply for the internship arose and excitedly I accepted the offer of this incredible opportunity, ready for a new beginning. Not entirely certain what to expect, it became clear that, with the 2019 community work project (CWP) launch and a series of educational outreach workshops ahead, I was going to need to learn the workings of JOA very quickly!
By day two I was on the street, shiny new JOA brochure in-hand, speaking to members of the public about the work JOA undertakes and encouraging enthusiastic individuals to consider joining one of our 2019 CWPs in either Tanzania, Kenya or Lebanon.
October’s outreach activities continued the following week as we took to the Skills Fair to encourage individuals to consider utilising their skills for international development, whether they wanted to be engineers, medics or had an interest in marketing. With our virtual reality headsets, we were also able to truly show people what Jersey can achieve, as countless children and adults excitedly took a virtual tour of the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, run by Orbis, one of JOA’s selected partners.
Week three arrived with a flurry of activity as our secondary school workshops commenced and nearly one hundred students undertook our ‘Stop the Spread’ challenge. Led by Practical Action’s education experts Julie Brown and Bren Hellier, the workshops introduced students to the issue of infectious diseases and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, before inviting teams to think on their feet and build a low-cost hand-washing device designed to conserve water and minimise the spread of diseases. During the course of the workshops I led several short tours of JOA’s free public exhibition, set out in the Gallery of the Jersey Museum, in order to introduce students to the impact JOA has worldwide. My role also gave me the opportunity to discuss the workshops and JOA’s activities with students, as well as get more involved than I had anticipated, as occasionally all hands were required to tie, tape and glue the final prototypes before presentations began!
In addition to outreach activities, during these initial three weeks with JOA I have also had the opportunity to review project proposals and project reports, develop a schools section on the JOA website (complete with educational material developed by Practical Action in collaboration with JOA), and assist with social media. With November fast approaching and many months of this internship still ahead, I’ve had a fascinating whirlwind start and can’t wait for everything still to come! Just watch this space…