The community engagement phase is an important part of your overseas expedition. It’s an incredible chance for you to really immerse yourself within the culture of your destination and learn about the everyday life of a community. You may discover many differences – but also a lot of similarities between yourself and your hosts! The more involved and engaged you are the more this cultural exchange will leave you with amazing experiences and memories.
Here are our tips on how to have the most amazing project experience ever!
Do some research
It’s easy to get overwhelmed turning up to a new project site so make sure you have a bit of knowledge under your belt before you arrive! As a team you may want to research the country and learn a little bit about it’s history, food and cultural practices! Your Expedition Planning Manager will of course give you as much information as possible about your specific site and tasks but remember your In-country agent will also be a good source of information prior to your arrival on site – so ask questions!
It’s important to remember that you may be the first team on site or you may be continuing work another team has started. You’ll want to know a bit about your task and talk as a team about any materials you may need to purchase and bring with you to the site. Cultural exchange is the most important part of this project phase – so make sure you have something to share. Teams often prepare a song or dance, a sports game or show pictures from their home town.
Have an open mind
Often we have a picture in our heads of what our project site will look like or what the locals will need. This will come from the media, or our friends’ opinions and is not always a clear indication of the true state of the country. So be open minded, and ready to work with the community on projects that they need, not what you think they want.
Ask questions and be ready to learn
At the heart of the experience is the chance to learn about local development challenges, even if by doing this you realise that your team won’t be able to fix them all! For example, how does a toilet improve a girl’s participation in school or why is tree planting so important to the local economy? Ensure you ask questions, work with the community and do your best.
Why not organise a game of soccer or cricket with the locals? Take part in games and cultural activities? Embrace this chance to learn new skills and make new friends and you’ll have an amazing time!