My mixed emotions of being an international development worker…or whatever

I chose a career that feeds my sense of adventure. I get to travel, learn new languages, experience new cultures, and generally rock out in the free world. But this vocation I have chosen is nothing like a vacation and comes with its own mixed bag of emotions I am left trying to figure out on a daily (oh who am I kidding…hourly) basis. 

The thing about living in west Africa is that I am exotic to the local population inciting both facination and fear at my white skin. That also means there’s no blending in. No matter how hard you try. I am one of the few people in the world who can see the direct impact of my work on an almost daily basis. But with such a fast paced and direct impact job you can end up on a pedestal that leaves plenty of room for error. You make friends with people that in any other context you wouldn’t even bother to talk to, because you’ve all made a choice to live in this foreign context so we better start making it easier on one another. 

Things are often more difficult than you want them to be and most things take more energy than you expect. You get to learn a new language but you will also struggle to find your words and express yourself. You will have periods of complete melodrama (missing home, navigating a new culture, not getting along with said friends etc.) and periods where your job is similar to any other office job. Periods of being very busy at work and socially and periods where your life is mostly a cycle of work, eat, watch movies, sleep, repeat. 

It’s a mixed bag and some days I want to trade it all in. Other days I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 


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