Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A rewarding internship experience in Sierra Leone

By Jesus Martinez
Managing and Advertising Editor
Ibraham Dickey teaches children in Siera Leone.

Ibrahim Dickey completed an education internship in Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa, at All As One Children Center (AAO), the orphanage where he was adopted from 10 years ago. 

Dickey, a senior majoring in cross-cultural studies, said that his duties as an intern at AAO included teaching and developing recreational activities for the orphans. “Teaching these kids was probably one of the toughest challenges in my internship,” said Dickey. “I found myself having to use my native tongue, Krio, to explain to these kids exactly what I was trying to teach them.” 

According to Dickey, the education system in Sierra Leone is not as advanced as the United States. Dickey said that he was teaching a sixth grade level class at a fourth grade level. He said that the linguistics course that he took at SMU with Jane Anderson, Ph.D., really helped facilitate his teaching.

“Even though teaching these kids in English was hard, I was at the same time reassured that I’m on the right track with my studies,” Dickey said. “This internship was beneficial in the sense that I now know that I can and enjoy working with kids.”

“When it came to the recreational activities, I realized that I am so Americanized that I forgot how much simple the outdoors can be,” said Dickey. “You don’t see kids play outside in the U.S., you see them inside playing video games.”

Dickey mentioned that his favorite part of the internship was spending time with the kids at the orphanage. He said that everyone was very welcoming, even if they did not know who he was. The only downside of the internship was seeing lot of the younger kids be sick because of the rainy season, Dickey said. 

Dickey said that he connected with the kids at the orphanage because they shared a lot of the same struggles. He said some of them did not have parents or relatives to care for them, so they were sent to AAO. “They treat each other like family,” said Dickey. 

“I use my experience as motivation,” said Dickey. “Always be thankful for being alive because someone out there has it worse than you.”

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