As you may remember, we have sent James to the Netherlands to attend the Young Expert Programme as part of his role as local Young Expert here at the SMART Centre. He returned from his training in December, so it was about time we sat him down to ask all about his adventures abroad. We spoke about what surprised him most, and how he spent his free time. Enjoy the read!
Tell us, what was the most exciting thing about the training?
“The training was full of exciting topics to equip participants with skills on personal development. The most exciting thing was to understand your personal preferences through MBTI instrument and how you can use them productively in a workplace. As a person I have strong preference in certain things and unique way of approach to different things.”
How will you apply these new findings here in Mzuzu?
“At the office we have different personalities all trying to achieve a common goal. Appreciating our different preferences and style is key. I might not be good at everything and should be flexible to learn from others.”
We can imagine it was quite intensive. Did you struggle with anything during the training?
“Finding myself in an environment which was completely different from where I am coming from was really a struggle. Language was the most challenging of all. Almost everything was in Dutch. If you go to supermarkets you never know what you are buying unless someone reads and interprets for you.
To take a train or tram you first need to ask people around which one to board or you find yourself in a location where you were not intending to go. The weather was also challenge. Most time of the training was spent indoors and that was great. After sessions every night and during the weekends we usually visited places, walking in the streets and that’s when you could experience the extreme weathers of the Netherlands.
Using chip cards to buy and access certain services was another strange thing. For example, checking in and checking out each time you use public transport gave me a very hard time.”
Now that you’re back, what do you think was the most memorable aspect of the training?
“Sharing stories, different culture and experiences with fellow YEPpers. It gave us an opportunity to appreciate how it is working in different political and cultural setups. And most of all learning from personal experiences in various countries and fields. Although most of the experiences shared were those in development countries where challenges are more similar, but every experience was unique.”
You also had some free time to explore the Netherlands, how was that?
“Visiting Amsterdam was a dream come true. Before the visit I had heard a lot about the city. How beautiful it was and that it attracts a lot of people all over the world. Finding myself there and especially at The Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam was exciting. Being a football lover and a fan for the Dutch team, that experience is something to remember for a very long time.”
Was there anything that surprised you?
“Seeing the majority of Dutch YEPpers speaking African or Asian languages, singing African or Asian songs and some dressing in African or Asian attire was something I didn’t expect. Most of the Dutch YEPpers had experience working in Africa, Asia and other developing countries, something which was good.”
For more information about the YEP Programme, please have a look on their website: https://www.yepprogrammes.com/.