WASH Program in Ghana

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by AnnaClaire Osei-Akoto, COL ’19

This summer I spent a month in Accra, Ghana executing a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) program in a local school.  The program was aimed in teaching children about issues pertaining to WASH whiles allowing the children to develop a project that they felt could help with some of the issues they discussed. The teaching style was done in a project based manner. Hence, the students did multiple mini projects to learn about the issues that surround water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The program was executed at Saint Martin de Porres school for four weeks. We had 30 students from 6th grade up to 9th grade participate in the program. Initially, it was intended to have high school students for the program. However, due certain circumstances, many of the high school students were unavailable. Thus, the age range was adjusted and we decided to include middle school students.

During the first week, the main focus was on water related issues. We started off by having a general discussion on the importance of water as well as general facts of what water is. This was followed up with a discussion on the importance of safe drinking water, how to distinguish between safe and unsafe drinking water, and how to purify water. After each topic discussion, we had the students write new things that they had learned. Most of the discussion involved proposing questions to the students and having them discuss with their peers. This allowed for them to think critically about the issues and share out the information to each other. This depicted that the students had some knowledge on the issues and by coupling the discussions with interactive presentations we were also able to provide more information. Additionally, we showed them a movie that discussed the importance of water and how lack of it and safe drinking water affected communities around the world. This forced the students to think of their home communities and how they may be affected and what change could be done in the slightest manner.

During the second and third week, we discussed sanitation and hygiene related issues. We had the students break up into six different groups. Each group was given a topic to educate the rest of the students on. For instance, one group was given the topic of good hygiene practices. Hence this group came up with a skit performance on what constituted good hygiene practices. The students were able to use what they had learned from the discussions and presentations to put together informative skits in which they performed for the school during an assembly meeting.

The last week was devoted to executing a project of the students choosing that would aid in solving WASH issues. The students decided that they wanted to create posters to put up around their school and in some of their neighborhoods that discussed these issues as a tool for educating their communities. This allowed the students to feel empowered with knowledge and give them a sense that they can be change makers.

CS Radio – Episode 44: “Global Week”

Today marks the start of Global Week at The University of Pennsylvania. The aim is to enlighten the Penn community about how they can engage with the world here on campus and by going abroad. As part of the festivities, Career Services will host our annual Global Career Fair on Thursday, featuring employers hiring for full time and summer internship positions around the world! In this episode of CS Radio, Michael and Mylène look at the various other resources Career Services offers to students and alumni looking to work abroad, as well as reviewing some general tips for an international job search. Enjoy!

Show Resources

International Job Search Resources
Goin’ Global & Uniworld (Part of our digital career resources)
Career Resources: International Opportunities
Study and Work Abroad Database from Penn Abroad
Penn Internship Network

Global Week Events
Global Week Homepage
Global Career Fair
Career Fair Prep Workshop
International Job & Internship Search Strategies Workshop

Get Some (International) Perspective – Reflections from a Recent Experience Abroad

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

I was fortunate enough to spend 8 days abroad on a recent business trip to Israel. As this was my first visit to the country, I knew there would be much to learn and process. After spending some time reflecting on my trip, I realized some of what I discovered (or was reminded) may be useful for those preparing for internships and full-time employment. Here are just a few observations:

The solutions to some of the most vexing domestic issues can be found abroad. During one of my meetings, I had the chance to speak with a principal at a local elementary school. I was curious to hear more about the school’s philosophy on educating students and how they achieved success. He was very candid and offered his opinion based on years of experience working in the country. Thinking about what he shared, I realized a similar approach may be helpful at some schools in the U.S. that have encountered challenges. Ultimately, this conversation reminded me that some of the answers to very challenging issues in the U.S. can be found abroad – so it’s important to take advantage of the chance to spend time abroad, visit different countries and learn as much as possible.

Perception can be significantly distorted by limited perspective. Prior to my trip, I revisited some articles written about the country from the perspective of individuals in the U.S. But I was quite curious to hear opinions from those who actually lived in the country. A few conversations with local citizens reminded me that perspectives can vary drastically on events and there is much value in hearing different viewpoints. What is especially great about visiting other countries is hearing firsthand accounts from those who lived through events others have read about in the past. Developing an appreciation for different viewpoints and appreciating the value of global mindset can be very helpful while working in companies or organizations and throughout your career.

While differences may be apparent, there may be more similarities than you expect. During a few conversations with other colleagues on the trip, a few people remarked how different cities and neighborhoods we visited reminded them of areas in the U.S. While it may be easy to focus on differences we see and observe, I was reminded that people’s lifestyles and experiences in other countries may have more in common with the U.S. than people realize or assume. Having the willingness to be open-minded and appreciate the similarities and differences of individuals you encounter will be helpful as you prepare for a global workforce.

Studying Abroad and Marketing its Impact on Your Professional Skills

Marianne Lipa, Associate Director

Studying abroad can be transformational academically, interpersonally, and professionally. From the professional standpoint, the experience is valuable and employers seek candidates who have flexibility and adaptability, communication, teamwork, cross-cultural, and analytical skills.  During your semester abroad, students cultivate and develop a broad foundation of transferable skills and attributes including self-awareness, intercultural communication, analysis from a variety of different perspectives, and independence.   The question becomes how do you market yourself with your abroad experience.  You can indicate on your resume any specific coursework that may be relevant to the position and extracurricular involvement (e.g. student groups on campus) associated with the semester abroad experience that enhanced your semester abroad within the academic and cultural realm.  If you have substantial international experience, you can include a section on the resume that focuses on the international/global aspects.  In both the cover letter and interview, you can explain in depth how studying abroad has prepared you further for success in the position and how the global perspective you developed shapes your analysis of economic, political, and social issues.

And remember you can also meet with a Career Services advisor to assist with navigating your international job search, domestic job search with international components, and how to best promote the impact of your study abroad experience as it relates to your professional skillset. Also please mark your calendars for our upcoming international opportunities career fair on November 11 in Houston Hall.  More details are available on our website at http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/careerfairs/IntlFairinfo.php

We look forward to seeing you at the fair and in the Career Services office!

Ramadan and Refugee Realities: A Summer with UNICEF Jordan

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Saagarika Thanvi, GEN ’16

Al-Balad in Downtown Amman, Jordan

thanvi1Hearing the call to prayer just before sunset. Watching people gather at the iftar table to break their fast. Enjoying the ambiance of Ramadan nights. Jordan opened my eyes to a new culture, a new way of living, and a new way to engage with everyday realities of people. I worked with UNICEF Jordan this past summer for the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Section related to understanding the performance and efficiency of the wastewater treatment facilities used at the Za’atari and Azaraq refugee camps in Jordan. My work exposed me first hand to the consequences of war and to the importance of supporting those people who need help the most. Watching people living in caravans in refugee camps having fled bombs and chemical weapons is heart-breaking. It was a surreal feeling being so close to the war torn countries of Syria and Iraq yet feeling sheltered in the safe haven of Jordan.

It was a new experience for me to work in WASH, but this past summer I learned so much more from my colleagues through this summer experience than what I was previously exposed to. It was a pleasure to come into the UNICEF office every day: I was challenged to use my skills as an engineer in a real life situation, but at the same time I had this unique opportunity of working with and learning from international professionals.

Azaraq Refugee Camp, Courtesy of Saleh Al’Sharabati (UNICEF Jordan)

When I use the restroom on a daily basis, I take it for granted that everything will be taken care of. I do not have to worry about the amount of water I consume. Or the water quality that is released back into the environment. However, this summer I realized the importance of water – the most essential ingredient for life. With tens of thousands of people living in small spaces and with only a limited water supply of about 35-40 litres per person per day provided, the challenges faced in treating the wastewater is enormous. Yet regardless of the situation, it is important to take into consideration the water quality because of the high potential for diseases to be spread through the water. However, the most important lesson that I learnt during these past weeks is that wastewater need not be seen as a ‘waste’ but as a resource. Wastewater can be easily reused for agricultural purposes and it can be used as a potential energy source through the generation of biogas.

Umm Qais, Jordan
Umm Qais, Jordan

My summer in Jordan made the world seem huge because of the sheer beauty of the earth I was exposed to, and through the amazing scenery that stretched before my eyes. This summer also made the world seem small because of the common human bond that demands of us to be open and loving to all especially to those who are the most vulnerable. I realised this summer the importance of doing my part to engage with communities that need to be supported because of circumstances that are not of their choice. It is essential to use the skills we have learned to make a positive difference in the world around us. Experiencing Ramadan in Jordan taught me the importance of human communities coming together in celebration of a common faith. Seeing the realities of refugees exposed me to the pain and suffering people have had to face due to selfish battles fought out of hate. Love is always greater than hate, and in a world with so much difficulty, we need to encourage more openness to learn about other people and make our world safe and just for all children and people to live freely.