Name, Age: Joeva Rock, 23
University, Major: UCSD– International Studies
Length of stay: 6 months – 1 year
Type of Work: Community Development, Human Rights, Youth capacity and capability building
Tell us about the nonprofit/social business you work for:
I spent the last year working for Abusua Foundation (AF) in Cape Coast, Ghana. Abusua was started ten years ago by a then University of Cape Coast student, and works on youth capacity and capability building and community development. AF has been engaged in a variety of projects including HIV/AIDS outreach, debate in the schools and an online youth magazine.
How did you find your position?
What’s your typical day like?
While with Abusua I was the Volunteer Coordinator and oversaw an international volunteer program. I placed skilled interns at different sites in the community including a local TV station, hospitals and a human-rights commission. The funds generated by the volunteer program go directly into supporting the projects and staff that Abusua oversees.
What kind of people do you work with?
Staff at Abusua were all Ghanaian, in their 20s and 30s. Interns were from the US, UK and Australia and were usually in their early 20s. Almost everyone I worked with had a college or professional degree.
What are your living accommodations?
I lived in our volunteer house that was located in a village on the University of Cape Coast campus. We had regular electricity, but no running water. Chickens, goats and the local mosque and church were my alarm clocks.
What do you do in your free time?
Went to the beach, read books, traveled, went dancing, shopped at local markets.
Share a favorite memory or story from your experience!
Monthly BBQ and dance parties with all the interns and our neighbors!
What inspired you to do this kind of work? If you are taking a gap year, what motivated you to do that?
I had studied abroad in Ghana and knew I wanted to go back, so after I graduated from UCSD and couldn’t find a job in the US I knew I had to look to work overseas and get first-hand experience in the development field.
How are you financing your time?
I was paid.
What kind of special skills do you need to do your job?
Writing, Social media
What have you learned about the nonprofit and social business world in your experience?
Running a successful nonprofit is hard! It’s non-stop work: meetings, travel, grant writing, etc., but the outcomes are super rewarding.
Do you think you make a unique contribution to your organization as a young person? Is your perspective or approach different from others?
The whole organization was young people working together, which creates a culture of high energy and innovation that’s hard to find other places.
How do you see this experience fitting into your long-term goals?
Working locally on the ground allowed me to discover what I want to study in grad school and the type of work I want to do professionally ie working with youth.
Grad school (cross your fingers)!
Do you have any advice for prospective gap-givers?
Research your program and other options in the area just in case you need a backup. Be open-minded and talk to as many people as you can!