Getting involved outside the workplace

Part of adjusting to a new city or country is getting a life outside of the workplace. Sometimes this is easy; sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge. But, if you’re lucky enough, once you get settled you can branch out and start making some connections within your area of interests. For me, this came in the form of youth and agriculture – a subject matter very close to my heart.

My interest in agriculture stems from a childhood dream of growing up on a farm – a Christmas wish list request that, for some reason, my parents never fulfilled. Of course, it also is influenced by the fact that I grew up just a short drive from Nova Scotia’s (and one of Canada’s) largest agricultural area. This instilled in me an appreciation for the food I was lucky enough to eat – often purchased directly from the farm.

When I first arrived in Uganda, I was told there was potential for me to move outside of the city, but that I would be predominantly working within Kampala. While life in the big city was intriguing to me, I was continually drawn to see life in the more rural parts of the country.

Thankfully, I have been granted a number of work opportunities, which have allowed me to meet with a number of farmers in the Eastern and Northern parts of the country. I have also had similar opportunities when travelling over the holidays in the Western part of Uganda. One theme that reappeared throughout all of these conversations was the challenge of youth engagement.

This had me thinking… we have a similar challenge brewing in Canada, and I’d heard similar stories during my time in Ghana two years ago, and throughout my travels around Europe, while living in the UK last year. Knowing my interest in food production and youth, I knew this was something I needed to focus more of my time on – both in- and outside of work hours.

By chance, while travelling in Jinja, I was introduced to a young man, who heads a youth capacity building organization based in Kampala, but with projects running all over the country. Within our conversation agriculture came up, and we discussed the possibility of collaborating in the future.

This weekend, part of that collaboration is coming to fruition… in the form of an event no one back home would believe I’d be a part of. That’s right – I’m talking about a Hip Hop showcase. Sadly, my participation will not be in the form of smooth rhymes (sorry, folks!), but by giving a short talk on the importance of youth in agriculture. Following this event, I’m hoping to spend my remaining three months working alongside this group in order to learn more about what makes youth in Uganda interested – or not – in a career in agriculture. It will also give me a chance to interact with other organizations trying to break the cycle of youth apathy.

Making the most of any experience is what creates opportunities to learn and grow – both of which are essential components of IYIP. So, I would encourage you, no matter who you are, to embrace every moment and opportunity to network, experience-share, and learn. You never know where they could lead…

Emily is working with the Food Rights Alliance in Kampala, Uganda as a Food and Nutrition Intern. Follow her blog at: theorangecanadian.blogspot.ca