24 Apr Maddalena activates leadership in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Maddalena is volunteering in Zanzibar, Tanzania as a Youth Communications & Engagement Coordinator. Read on to discover how she activates leadership as part of Canada World Youth and Youth Challenge International’s innovative EQWIP HUBs project!
Volunteering with EQWIP HUBs has allowed me so many opportunities to strengthen my skills in a global environment. These experiences have helped me not only to enhance my skills, but also to help those around me realize their dreams. These are just a few of those moments where I know I have made a difference.
As the Youth Communications & Engagement Coordinator I work closely with one of EQWIP HUBs in-country partner organizations, Zanzibar Vocational Training Authority (VTA), to help develop and strengthen the project platforms, ultimately increasing youths’ access to employment and business opportunities. As the first Youth Communications & Engagement Coordinator at EQWIP HUBs Zanzibar, I seized the opportunity to take the lead and assist the VTA in creating a communications plan with the goal of bringing more awareness to their employment training for youth in Zanzibar.
To ensure the communications plan was designed effectively, I conducted interviews to develop a baseline of VTA executive staff members’ knowledge of communications and provided an introductory workshop for all staff on how to develop a communications plan. This also helped to unveil VTA’s goals for capacity building activities around communications. Additionally, I wanted to ensure that the communication strategies we designed matched the local environment in Zanzibar. This led me to researching local organizations that specialize in communications to help guide us when speaking to the local youth in Zanzibar. As a result, Tanzania Media Women’s Association agreed to partner with EQWIP HUBs and the VTA in designing a communications plan that will help connect youth to employment and business opportunities.
What surprised me was that, having previously worked in a global environment, I believed I was already equipped with the necessary communication abilities. However, once I began to work with the VTA, it was clear that it was essential to make considerations for the cultural environment specific to Zanzibar, which can be very different from Canada or other parts of the world. Furthermore, working on capacity building activities requires excellent communication skills to ensure that the partner organization and youth are gaining as much knowledge and skills as possible. Working with EQWIP HUBs and the VTA has also allowed me to learn critical negotiation skills. Through the interviews with their executive staff, I discovered a need to integrate a Communications Coordinator while working with them to schedule and budget this support. Both the ability to adapt to different communications environments and learning to negotiate are crucial learning outcomes to take away for any future experience.
At EQWIP HUBs Zanzibar, my Youth Communications & Engagement Coordinator role includes monitoring the Facebook page and interacting with youth participants. After some time, it became clear that many of the youth saw value in an English club as knowing English would distinguish them from other applicants when it came time to apply for a job. Agreeing that this was a great opportunity, I approached the Hub Coordinator to discuss how to make the English club happen and gained valuable insights through customized lessons that kept youth participants engaged. We’ve also designed lessons so that all Canadian volunteers can contribute to the English club and share their unique experiences for collective growth – aligning with the spirit of EQWIP Hubs.
Working with the VTA and EQWIP HUBs to help ensure that youth are more engaged and connected to employment and business opportunities, and have the space to develop their English language skills, has been so rewarding. Being able to identify needs and offer solutions has allowed us to retain participants and help develop their confidence and mine. I look forward to continuing to develop my leadership skills amongst many others while volunteering with EQWIP HUBs and carrying them with me throughout my personal and professional life.