The Bermans meet The Schnurmans, and other African connections

Acclimating to our new home means meeting new people, from our cheerful office-mates at PPAG to our fellow volunteers in Accra. There aren’t many AJWS volunteers in town, so it was nice to make contact with Peter and Hinda Schnurman, AJWS Volunteer Corps vets on their fifth(!) assignment.

Though we’re all stationed in Accra, we are on opposite sides of the city and with Ghanaian traffic, we may as well be in different towns. The Schnurmans are our parents’ age, with a clan of grandchildren running around the Seattle area, and are thus a pleasant reminder that voluntourism never stops.

Networking on my way through the PPAG lobby this morning, I met Olivier Asselin, a Canadian photographer who’s been working in Accra with Journalists for Human Rights for the last year. Since part of my job at PPAG is to train their media relations officer and work with him to place stories, meeting Olivier was a nice fluke, one that I hope will open doors into the Ghanaian press.

Online connections on the returned Africa Peace Corps Volunteer grapevine have introduced me to the Geoseed Project, based in Silicon Valley with the mission of sending back issues of National Geographic magazine to teachers and girl students around the developing world. I’m hoping to get some sent to the PPAG clinic, for the women in the waiting room.

Finally, I heard from a friend at Transitions Abroad who just returned from the annual Study Abroad conference in Montreal; he confirmed that interest in volunteering abroad has never been higher, but that as many as 20-30% of volunteers return home discontented with their program and experience. He sent me this page from his website with a plethora of volunteer opportunities throughout Ghana.

More on PPAG and what I’ll be doing for two months coming soon. Just as soon as I finish revising my work plan…

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