Belen S. Mulugeta

Ghana - 2007

Host Organization in country: Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC) and Aid to Artisans Ghana (ATAG)
 
Intern’s roll:
 
I was most fortunate to be a part what is described as, “a visionary initiative dedicated to showcasing and supporting Africa’s leading designers,”; Design Africa was an amazing project to contribute towards. My primary roll on this initiative, in Ghana, was to coordinate product development workshops where designer and architect, Chieck Diallo, assisted a selected group of companies enhance their products for export. I reported on the activities and photo documented the entire process. I  coordpnated a mentorship prograacted as a translator (French/ English) during the workshops and even photographed the final products to be used for print and web. 
 
My favorite part of the internship
  
My favourite part of the internship was that I was present throughout the entire process. Within the first week of my arrival in Ghana, I had already started interviewing local graphic design agencies to potentially hire to design the Design Africa Ghana brochure. I assisted Kathleen Holland and Cheick Diallo while they interviewed dozens of companies, aspiring to be a part of the program. In addition to coordinating the workshops for the selected companies, I was present when they presented their final works in Canada at the buyers show in Toronto and at SIDIM International Interior Design Show in Montreal. I also had the opportunity to put my graphic design skills to work, revamping company logos, and creating new ones as well.
  
What your greatest lesson learned was while you were there?
 
A few weeks into my stay in Ghana, I was talking with a Regional Manger from GEPC who kindly stopped me in mid speech and reminded me to, “slow down”. I don’t know if I was nervous or trying to act overly professional  - which by the way I had no real experience with at the time other than trying to emulate the quick, concise dialogue I saw on television. Anyhow, those two words, at that precise time, really resonated with me. I was reminded that I was in an environment with a different pace and if I was to be useful and productive, that I would have to make a few adjustments. 
  
"Words of wisdom", advice for other interns
 
These are the keys to survival and success:
Research
Observation
Tact in human relations (very important)
 A sense of humour
 Ability to improvise