Make the most of my time : Joëlle Laberge's internship journal

July 16, 2019

Every year, DID and Desjardins Foundation offer 5 international internships to young graduates from university and professional training programs in a variety of fields. Since 1997, over 90 participants in the DID international internship program have had the opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism on DID projects while gaining valuable international work experience.

Who’s our intern?

Joëlle Laberge is a master’s student in International Relations at Université Laval in Quebec City. From May 10 to August 23, she’s on an internship in Benin to help out with the DID-led ADAPAMI support project for developing, professionalizing and revitalizing microfinance there. Joëlle has agreed to share her adventure with us through posts that she’ll write throughout her stay in Benin. Today we’re publishing her second post. 

Make the most of my time

In the fourth week of my internship, I started feeling much more comfortable: comfortable exploring, comfortable being myself in this new place, comfortable saying good evening to almost everyone I see in the street. That’s right, good evening—very rarely good morning! Time is not the same here. Or at least, there’s not the same sense of urgency.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a chance to work with Dieu-Donné and Segla, two Beninese colleagues. It’s been a rewarding experience professionally, and it’s also been an opportunity to learn about Beninese culture and have meaningful discussions. We talk about how we think or do things differently and it helps us understand our strengths and limitations. It’s refreshing to take an honest look at our cultures and question what we take for granted.

Segla has started teaching me Fon, one of Benin’s most widely-spoken languages. I’m waiting patiently for the next time someone says to me, “You must not be from around here. You walk too fast!” so that I can reply, “Ein! A fon ganjiaa? Eih ça!” It just means,
“Yes! Are you up yet? The day is practically over!” but it’ll be so satisfying!

Another great cultural experience was the Africa Cup of Nations soccer championship, which has captivated the country for the past few weeks. Benin’s team, the Squirrels, played an excellent match against Morocco, one of my other favourite teams, earning a spot in the quarterfinals. People took to the streets to celebrate the historic win. Everyone was so proud!

Professionally, there are new learning opportunities every day. My colleague Lori, a financial education advisor, is here on a three-week project and we often go out into the community to meet with women entrepreneurs. This is my favourite thing by far. Gender equality is a very important part of my internship and it’s what I’m most passionate about. I get an inside look at different women’s journeys, the challenges they face, what drives them and how they overcome obstacles. They’re truly inspiring!

The first week seemed to go by so slowly, but now it feels like time is flying by! That means I have to make the most of my time here—and that’s exactly what I intend to do in the coming weeks.

 

To see Joëlle's first post.