What’s internship like?- Dakar edition

Since it’s been a while since I wrote a post, I’ll start by (re)introducing myself. My name is Gaby and I’ve been interning in Dakar, Senegal, as a part of the International Educational Development Program at Upenn, since the beginning of June. As promised in my last blog post, I want to give an overview of the work I’ve been doing.

I work as part of the coordination cluster of the education sector at UNESCO’s regional bureau here in Dakar. This cluster was created in response to UNESCO’s mandate to coordinate the implementation, integration and follow-up of SDG4: Education 2030 in the West and Central Africa region. In response to this mandate, the Regional Coordination Group for SDG4 in West and Central African (RCG4-WCA) was formed in 2016. As a part of the coordination cluster, therefore, a large part of my internship focused on strengthening the existing mechanism by suggesting changes to the online platform, helping develop new strategies and propositions for group members to review, and writing and translating meeting reports. 

In addition to the coordination cluster, I’d been asked to work on the “Learning to Live Together” (LTLT) task team which is one of the seven task teams of the RCG4-WCA. If this is all a little confusing, it’s ok, it took me a couple of weeks to learn all the terminology. To make this all a little simpler, I’ll focus on three more concrete projects I’ve been working on this summer.

  1. Communications Plan: Since the RCG4-WCA is a group made up of 25+ organizations ranging from UN agencies and civil society to education networks, strong communication is essential to ensuring that information and knowledge are shared with all relevant stakeholders. A communication plan helps lay the ground work for the group and, more importantly, the Secretariat who is responsible for communicating with members about any and all upcoming events. While I am not a communications major, I’ve been able to base the Group’s plan off of existing communications plans. The plan will serve as a rough draft for members to review and make any comments or suggestions they deem necessary. Some sections, I’ve intentionally left blank because a communications plan should ideally be developed through member organization participation. This plan will be sent to members before the end of the year.
  2. Module development: Part of my internship has also included working on what is called, the Learning to Live Together (LTLT) task team. They are currently working on a project to reach youth living in the suburbs of Dakar and have asked me to develop one of the modules, or sessions, that the youth will participate in. What is interesting about this project is that there are three organizations working together on it and we are trying to get the youth involved in the development process. The meetings and process reminded me a lot of what we talked about in class, ensuring stakeholder participation, and brought to light just how difficult that can be sometimes.
  3. Regional Learning Partner (RLP) call for expression of interest (EOI): Like many of my peers, I worked on an RFP (request for proposals) this summer for multi-year funding. Shoutout to Dr.GK for preparing us to tackle RFPs like pros. It was a really great way to put what we had learned into practice such as mimicking RFP language.

These three projects have been my main work this summer but, as an intern on the coordination cluster, I am always attending meetings, writing meeting reports, translating documents, and communicating with member organizations. One skill that helps me is my ability to adapt and respond to ever changing priorities. It’s important to be willing to tackle different tasks and, in the process, will learn a lot. Unfortunately, there are no pictures to go along with this post except for the beautiful shot from the Sine Saloum region in Senegal.

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