This is the letter we wrote to SFU and the University of Cape Coast before beginning our internship:
To Whom It May Concern
We are honoured and excited to be nominated by SFU to participate in the Students for Development Internship with the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. While we are enthusiastic about our involvement, we are also sensitive to potential issues that can arise from overseas internship or volunteer programs. We would like to clarify our motivations and expectations for this exchange in a manner that will promote dialogue and further understanding between both organizations.
While the title of this internship is “Students for Development”, as undergraduate students we have few technical or professional skills to contribute to “development” in any substantial way. Our motivations for this program are primarily to learn: to learn about Ghanaian culture; to learn about challenges facing Ghana and the role the University of Cape Coast plays in addressing them; and to gain research experience in our field of study. With this in mind, the greatest contribution we can make to this internship is to arrive with an open and curious mind, and use our experiences to inform a more balanced perspective of the world.
We are also cognisant of challenges posed by the short time-frame of this internship. We will be working for 90 days; this is a limited period in which to leave any meaningful impact. Additionally, given our lack of experience in Ghana, we are wary of suggesting ideas for, and beginning new research projects. To avoid the potential issues and impacts that can arise through our limited experience and the short time-frame, we feel it would be best to work on an existing local project that has been carefully constructed with prior community involvement.
To further our learning, we hope to work closely with Ghanaian professors in their supervisory roles, and other Ghanaian student interns in a peer role. We are also eager and willing to take courses at the University of Cape Coast to build skills and enhance our understanding of issues related to the project.
As SFU undergraduate students, we do have certain soft skills to contribute to this internship and the project we will be working on. We bring to the table writing skills, critical analysis skills, a new perspective, hard work, dedication, and literature research skills.
We would like to connect with the supervising professor or department to understand the project we will be involved with specifically and in detail. This will help us feel more confident that our goals match the supervising professor’s expectations, that our skills are suited to the project, and that our concerns are addressed. It will also allow us to conduct effective pre-departure research to ensure we are as prepared as possible to be productive while in Ghana.
Thank you for your assistance and understanding,
Arsalan Hassan, Daniella Barreto