Monday, 18 January 2010

My five weeks at Consumers International

Dieunedort Wandji (Rhoda Karpatkin advocate from RACE Cameroon Africa) reveals what he learned working at CI.
How quickly time flies! Five weeks ago I landed in London as a perfect stranger for an internship. Yesterday (9 December, 2009), as I was parting after a cheerful farewell drink with CI London Staff, I surprisingly felt the pain of leaving long-time friends. Then, my mind suddenly drifted to the questions that had haunted me upon my arrival at Heathrow airport five weeks ago: What should I be able to take home? Will I be up to the task? Will the staff be nice? And London? And Londoners?

My first day at CI London office quickly shook off my worries. And by the second day, action started.

There were at least 15 scheduled meetings with UK-based consumer organisations and other civil society groups in France. I enjoyed meeting every specialist – consumer rights advocates, policy professionals and scholars. Each meeting had an added value as it either brought to my knowledge an issue that I was unaware of, or uncover other subtle aspects of an issue that I thought I mastered. The contacts I have been able to make and the literature I received are worth a million pounds.

What’s more, working on specific projects with CI staff has significantly improved my skills in regards to consumer issues, campaigning, interacting with other NGOs and drafting project proposals. This will definitely improve the way RACE works and increase our impact as a civil society organisation.

And what about London? And Londoners? I was relieved to notice that not even Londoners have mastered every corner of the city or know the tube map by heart.

I visited the most famous places in London. It was exciting to not just say, ‘Hey! That’s the Foreign Office’ or ‘This is the House of Commons’. I had professional reasons to step into them and see things from within.

I offer individual thanks to each staff member at CI London office. It was an exciting professional experience and a life-changing human encounter.

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