Growing up in rural British Columbia, Canada, what I knew of Africa was famine, war, corruption, and that the most amazing wildlife and biodiversity lived there! My father helped to develop my love and knowledge African wildlife through watching many hours of BBC Natural History shows, Lorne Greene’s New Wilderness, and wildlife specials on CBC. However, my understanding of life and diversity on the African continent would not really being until I was in my early 20s and in class with Dr. Wendy Bedingfield at Acadia University.
While taking Wendy’s course on Global Issues in Leisure, I naively stated that after graduation I wanted to travel to Africa to dig wells, or something like that, to help ‘save’ the people who lived there. Fortunately for me, Wendy had experience in international development, community development, and dealing with the misguided and well-meaning intentions of eager undergrads. She asked me some important questions that day:
Fast forward ten years and I was presented in what many (I know I did) would consider a once in a lifetime opportunity – I was asked to join colleagues in CIDA (now Global Affairs Canada) funded project in Ghana, West AFRICA!! Yes – I was offered a low cost (to me) opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream of visiting Africa and after quick consultation with my personal voices of reason (Cameron Weighill & Jean Weighill) I said yes to an opportunity that would shape and change my professional practice and personal values in ways that I could have only imagined.
My next few blog posts will include reflections on my transition from the stumbling novice who had a lot of book learning, some general community development knowledge, and very little contextual knowledge to put the pieces together to the somewhat seasoned international community researcher and project workerwho makes fewer mistakes, acknowledges how much I don’t know, and how much I have left to learn.
Dr. Aggie Weighill
Fernweh is a German noun that speaks to longing for travel to distant places - something that I strong relate to. I am very fortunate to have a career that helps me to fulfil my desire to travel and to explore our amazing planet. I also have incredible friends and family who both encourage me and join me on adventures at home and abroad.