Stop, Collaborate and Listen

I have just over two weeks left before we leave Mwanza. Two weeks is not going to be enough to get everything done. I have to do as much as possible in terms of the event so that Steph isn’t lost when taking over (the MikonoYetu event has been pushed to the middle of September, so unfortunately I won’t be around for that), finish interviews, finish putting together case studies, do research for write-ups before and after the case studies so Maimuna can make them into a nice booklet, and figure out how to edit the video footage I’ve compiled. Maimuna’s been in Dar es Salaam for the past week getting her passport figured out, and apparently she’s been sorting out a visa as well. She’s headed to Switzerland for a funeral. I’m glad she was able to go, but was rendered a tad panic-stricken when she emailed me saying that if there was anything urgent I needed, tell her soon because her flight left at 5:00. I’m not sure when she’ll be back.

Steph, as I’ve mentioned, will be here in Mwanza until October and will be working with MikonoYetu as well. I’m passing the torch to her in terms of the event, and am very excited that she’ll be doing her internship at such an awesome establishment and with Maimuna. And that I have someone else to work with.

I’m finally buckling down to get these case studies nailed down. I have translated notes for five of them, three have notes that I still need to be translated into English, and then there are two more interviews that still have to be scheduled (made a little more difficult with Maimuna out of the country for a bit). I concluded about a month ago to work within my skillset and not try to do more than I was capable of as it would just lend to my frustration. This led me to the decision to ask Iris to help me with the videos that Maimuna wants me to make out of the interview footage. Iris has made videos before, has a photographer’s eye, and has relevant software already on her computer. She is also the busiest she’s ever been this summer at the moment, and will only get busier these next two weeks as the SAUT students finish exams and are able to actually work with Iris and Samira. Upon realizing this, panic-stricken Andrea got a little more edgy.

Not that I’m a fretting basket case right now. I have my bouts of rant-filled panic (Nuri’s a champ and usually is around to sit through all of them), but overall I’ve realized that I, only one person, can only do so much. I can send Maimuna final drafts of case studies and write-ups from home after I get back if need be, and have already decided to keep in touch with Maimuna and tell her that I’m always open to editing grant proposals if she thinks to email them to me, whether I’m here or back in Canada. Regardless how these next couple of weeks go, this internship will not have been a failure. I’ve learned so much, have developed my personal philosophy in leaps and bounds, and have built limited relationships with numerous wonderful people. Even as I stress and fret about how the heck I’m going to edit my messy video footage into comprehensive short videos and create a decent website for MikonoYetu so that they can finally have a website (yay!), I’m discovering how far fretting and stressing gets you. Answer: not very far. So instead of fretting, I’m doing what I can, reflecting, and have burned through an entire season of Game of Thrones in the last two days (oops).

Speaking of videos and websites, I once again need to remember that collaboration is key and I’m far from being alone in this work. Steph blogs regularly (check out her travel blog it’s fabulous: and is much more adept at navigating the online world than I, so we’re going to work together on the website (MikonoYetu website url coming soon!) and get that up and running for Maimuna. And just this morning, while complaining about how little time I had to crank out ten short videos when I had no idea what I was doing and couldn’t rely on Iris (a typical rant centred around me and all of my problems), Steph said that we could get Iris to give her a crash course on iMovie for her Mac, and then we could work together on the videos over the next two weeks. Steph got a very big hug after that statement. Together we can sort out the best ways to portray these women’s stories, pick each other’s creative brains, and get them up on the website. I’ve never been happier.

I thought I’d grown through this summer and successfully integrated a collaborative spirit into my being. I thought I had this whole thing figured out and could roll with the punches. I thought I knew how to ask for help and was finally okay with depending on people a little bit. Apparently, I still have some things to learn.

Here’s to two weeks left in Mwanza, Steph being awesome, and the fact that I haven’t worn sunscreen on my legs in a few days with the small hope that they might get slightly burned and that will in turn become a slight tan. Here’s to Mwanza, and all that I’ve learned and experienced here. Here’s to it all, especially the learning curves.

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