Spotlight on...

While abroad, Joeva focused her studies on post-colonial politics and culture, and volunteered at the Budaburam Liberian Refugee Camp.

Outside of her year in Ghana, Joeva was an active member of both the ERC and UCSD communities. She participated in CORE and Rock n Roosevelt, volunteered with AS Programming, was an orientation leader for incoming freshman and transfers, a campus tour guide, a stagehand at Mandeville Theatre, interned at the Women's Center, and was a dedicated patron of the Art of Expresso.

Where and Why did you decide to serve abroad?

Originally I had decided to go to Ghana on a whim, but I  had always known I wanted to study in an area where I could put my academics from UCSD to test. It's pretty imperative as an international Studies major to study....internationally. A couple of my friends and family had travelled to Ghana before and only had good things to say. I also really enjoy West African music so I thought to myself, "why not?" Most importantly, the thought of living in a newly independent country excited me, and in the end, Ghana provided a perfect arena for studying development, political science, and sociology.

How did you stay involved after your return?

Upon returning from Ghana I only had one thing in mind; to get more people to go to Ghana. I volunteered regularly at the Internatinoal Center with Kathleen McLaren-Hawking, and participated in different events trying to interest students in studying abroad. Additionally, I met with a couple of professors who were interested in including my experiences in their class curriculum, which was a huge honor. I also ended up writing my thesis on girl's education in West Africa, which allowed  me to combine theory, academics, my experiences and personal beliefs.

What are your future plans?

Well, I'm back in Ghana! I am working at Abusua Foundatino, a Ghanaian NGO in Cape Coast committed to community development through youth works and capacity building. We have three main focuses: providing trainings and workshops for local youth, supporting start-up youth initiated projects and groups, and hosting international volunteers to serve different projects in the Cape Coast area. I am currently serving as the Volunteer Coordinator, supporting our volunteers and projects, and finding new ways to expand.



Hellooooo family, friends, lovers, and ninjas--- 

As I am wrapping up my first week of work at Abusua Foundation, and hitting the week mark in Ghana (but who’s counting?), I thought I would write to you all to let you know a little more about what I’ll be doing here. 

For the next year or so I’m going to be working as the Volunteer Coordinator for Abusua Foundation.  AF is a Ghanaian organization based in Cape Coast, which is about two hours west of Accra.  It’s an old slaving site, so its a big tourist town which attracts many visitors, the most famous of which being Barack Obama, who came last summer.  There are still lots of signs of his visit, including a giant AKWAABA OBAMA (Welcome Obama) sign up on the main junction.  While Cape Coast may be one of the largest cities in Ghana, compared to Accra it’s got a very small town vibe. 

Abusua was started some time ago by Simon Sossah, who was at the time a student at the University of Cape Coast.  Since its inception (!!!), AF has grown to be a well known and respected organization within the country.  The focus of the organization is community development and youth works.

Its purpose its three-tier: to train and empower local youth through capacity building programs, encourage participation by acting as a civil society incubator (helping new groups and orgs getting started), and hosting a volunteer program.  The volunteer program is the money making side of the org, which Simon started hoping that it would create enough revenue so that he wouldn’t have to be dependent on foreign aid grants.

 As the Volunteer Coordinator my job is to recruit and retain interns, place them in projects, make sure their stay here is nice, and find new projects and build relationships.  Volunteers are able to intern at local tv and radio stations, the Commission for Human Rights and Justice, a couple hospitals, schools and orphanages.  Right now we have four volunteers- three Americans and one Irishman.  Additionally, another aspect of my job is to live at the Abusua House with the volunteers, and make sure our staff is tending to our gardens, everyone’s eating well, etc.  And hopefully soon getting chickens!!  

So, that’s the basics of what my time here will be like.  Other than that, coming back to Ghana felt pretty normal, just like going back to San Diego, San Francisco, or Minnetonka.  When I got off the plane and smelt the humidity, when I talked my way into the country even though the immigration officer didn’t like my visa, and when Simon picked me up and said “my car broke down on the way here,” I thought, I’m back.  And so Ghana is the same as it was two years ago, and still just as lively as ever.  Emotionally, mentally and physically I’m doing well.  Taking lots of vitamins, walking instead of taking taxis (no trotros here :[), and trying not to think too much about all the obruni kids from last time that I’m missing.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Lauryn Hill to keep my head clear and focused, and reading Alice Walker and Maya Angelou to stay inspired.  And, as always, I’m excited to be eating egg sandwiches, drinking whisky sachets and consuming lots of rice, yams, and plantains. 

Well, that’s it on my end.  I’m trying to keep my blog updated, so feel free to check it out if you feel so inclined:

Endless love and admiration--