Danielle Taylor - Journalism, General Journalism Projects in Ghana
As a recent university graduate who had spent the last ten months working and travelling across Western Europe, I was anxious to satisfy my wanderlust with a four week placement in Accra, Ghana that my colleagues and I had decided would be an appropriate last stop on our whirlwind World Tour. From the moment we were greeted at the airport right up until getting settled with our host mother and new housemates, we immediately felt at home and understood right away why the local motto is fittingly said to be “Akwaaba” (Welcome).
My desire to compete for a spot in a Masters Journalism programme required a unique internship experience that led me to the Projects Abroad offices in Accra. Originally placed as a print media volunteer, the cooperation and understanding of my coordinator enabled me to also pursue my passion for radio broadcast and assist Vibe FM studios with their daily operations. The warm reception I received from the staff reassured me that my request had not been made in vain and I was happy to be put straight to work, attending a media conference for a national festival and co-hosting an afternoon and evening radio show all on my first day!
My main duties involved helping to prepare and sometimes even announce both local and international news, as well as summarising various press releases and representing VIBE FM at different press conferences. Having little to no background in media communications but determined to get a hands-on understanding, I was nervous and a little flustered my first times out in the field and behind the microphone. However, I truly appreciated the willingness and openness of VIBE FM staff to help me achieve my personal goal to develop my skills as an on-air personality. Despite having their own programmes and agendas to attend to, they were encouraging in getting me to bring whatever I had to the table so that in the end, we could all benefit from my time at the station.
With the help of the field team and other radio presenters, my confidence grew to the point where I was posing poignant questions and chatting to guests and invited speakers with ease. The immediate response from both listeners and members of the media were positive and before long I was invited to fill in as host on a morning programme for the duration of my volunteer placement. I began interviewing local artists and members of the community while broaching topics of concern, even working with the Projects Abroad Human Rights volunteers to incorporate issues that needed media exposure.
My enthusiasm and work ethic must have made an impression, as my efforts on the daytime programme led management to offer me a contract hosting the show full time, a position that I gladly accepted and that I’ve been performing now for the past two weeks.
Despite my growing daily duties there was still plenty of time to enjoy what Accra’s nightlife had to offer and to get out and around the Greater Accra Region to see some of Ghana’s most breathtaking sights. I witnessed drumming and dancing by firelight at Kokrobite, visited castles and culture at Cape Coast, trekked the national park’s canopy walk and touched crocodiles in Kakum and even hiked for hours to the mountainous Wli waterfalls before stopping by a monkey sanctuary in the country’s Volta region.
Before my placement I had read in pre-departure materials and learned from other volunteers that things may seem a bit unstructured compared to what one may be used to back home, and that it is down to you to make as much as you possibly can out of your time here. While I can confirm this liberty to be true, it may work to your disadvantage should you decide to limit yourself in doing the bare minimum required.
But if you aim to go above and beyond plain old task execution, treating the placement as any other job or internship and striving to do your utmost, your hard work will not go unnoticed and you’ll be amazed at what doors may open up to you. I’m looking forward to the next few months and am grateful for the opportunity my placement with Projects Abroad has afforded – the chance to keep feeding my hunger for travel and stay abroad while gaining even more valuable work experience in preparation for what awaits me back home!