Sierra Leone Experience Reflection

Top 3 Things Learned

1. Clear and concise is always the way

a. Working with a team of seven, communication was something we really struggled with.
I learned very early on that one must be super clear and concise on what they believe
the priorities are and how to get those done

b. I’ve never really been in a position where I had people essentially working for me (the
translators and interns, etc.). To be able to work with them most effectively, I learned
that you need to tell them exactly what they need to do, how they need to do it, and
when they need to do it so that there are no questions up in the air. Especially when
dealing with research and data, clarity and consistency are two things that cannot be

2. Speak up

a. Again, working with a group of seven it was easy to get lost in other’s opinions and
ideas. Although it is important to keep an open mind and welcome other ideas, I think it
is very important to stay strong on things that you know need to be done and done in a
certain way

b. Voicing your own opinion can be hard but is well worth it in the long run
c. If you feel an issue is developing or is impacting the work, it is crucial to nip it in the butt
right away rather than wait until it has spiraled into an even bigger issue.

3. Ask and you shall receive

a. I was very surprised coming to Sierra Leone at the willingness of people to want to help
us and coordinate things so that we could get things done. I quickly realized that if you
find those people who are willing to be champions for your project they will gladly go
above and beyond to do the things you need.

b. We were able to ask Yakuba to do grocery runs for us, asked the church for volunteer
crowd control and extra translators, and ask the clinics to coordinate with other CHWs
to spread the word. All these things would not have happened if we simply did not ask.

How did GSIF help facilitate your professional development?

GSIF strengthened my people skills
o Having to communicate through the language barrier
o Working with translators to do an English to Krio translation and then back from Krio to
o Understanding more facial expressions and body gestures
GSIF help me garner my communication skills with people of all ages and all backgrounds
 GSIF allowed me to create a network of people I can keep in contact with and use in the future
and for future reference
GSIF broadened my view of the possibility of my career path
o Before this trip, I viewed my career as very limited to a few avenues in a few places
o After the trip I realized there are so many ways I can make change in so many places
 GSIF made me realize you must go into things with no expectations
o Coming into the trip we thought we would have a reliable oven and bakery to use,
reliable power for refrigerators, and more people would have cellular access so we
could communicate with them easily like we can in the US

o These were all large changes that we needed to adapt to and it honestly took up a large
bulk of time.

How did GSIF help me grow personally?

GSIF allowed me to become more confident in voicing my opinions and standing my ground
o Came from working with so many other people
o Realized I cannot be intimidated by others
GSIF taught me how to adapt to uncomfortable situations and to focus on the important things
even when other aspects of your life may be askew
o Africa was definitely a big adjustment, but I realized that the only thing that really
mattered was the work I was doing

GSIF made me realize the breadth of the world and how much of it I have yet to explore
o I got a very different view on the direction I can take my life and that I am not just
limited to the US

GSIF allowed me to realize the important things in life
o Seeing all these people and children in such a tight knit community and sense of
happiness really changed I viewed my life and my decisions

GSIF made me realize how much of an impact I can make if I really dedicate time to a cause
o Doing work for 3 weeks straight was tough, but I was amazed by the outcomes and the
relationships I was able to develop

1 Thought.

  1. Hi Neena,
    I think you did a great job starting to reflect on a lot of different lessons you learned. It might also be helpful to think about specific lessons in more detail – for example, with growth in people skills and communication skills, was there a specific instance that demonstrated this? How will you apply it in future situations?

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