Well it seems that I am not doing the best job in the world of updating my preparation for my upcoming trip to Nigeria on a weekly basis like I had hoped. So I have been jotting down some notes here and there and now I finally have the opportunity to put them down on digital paper.
Weeks 6 and 7 are not continuous weekly. We didn’t have a meeting on 5 December and because I was on vacation in Irsael, I had to listen to the recording on Week 6 (12 December). However, I did attend our prep call for 19 December (Week 7), which was our last call of the year, and essentially concludes the second month of preparation.
Week 6 (12 December)
If I had to summarise Week 6, it would be that the administrative details and the logistical requirements are rather easy, but making the time for them is difficult. It’s the normal pressures of work against the ‘homework’ requirements that we have combined with the need to get through all of the formalities such as obtaining our visas, etc, etc. It is pressure that can be handled of course, but it does leave us with a lot to do.
In terms of the preparation meeting we had this week (again, thanks to the team for recording the call), we got to hear more details from our colleagues in Nigeria about some more of what we can expect which was nice because it is always good to get first-hand knowledge. Our ‘Alumni’ member assigned to our team (someone who has done a Corporate Service Corps community project in the country before) also provided us with some valuable insight.
I think for many of us, the thing that is still outstanding (and most eagerly awaited) is to know what our assignments will be. Who will we be working with (we are told that Ado Ekiti is most dedicated to university education and the government)? What issues will be working on? How do we ensure we make the best start possible? What is clear from the team is a great commitment to get started and to do a good job. Personally for me, there is a positive pressure that I am putting on myself to make sure that we do at least as good of a job as our predecessors. Once we know the issues that we will be working on, I plan to make full use of our global project library to contact and work with experts.
So that is what Week 6 was about…preparation, homework, exciting building, sharing how we feel about the assignment, and lots of admin and logistics!
Week 7 (19 December)
It’s our last meeting for 2012. And it’s hard to imagine that since getting our initial notifications that only 9-10 weeks have. Goodness how quickly time is flying! We began our meeting with a status on more logistics and preparation of course! I got a timely reminder that I had to visit a travel doctor in order to fix any required vaccinations that I need and medicines I must secure before I travel. According to a lot of people, the vaccinations will be very expensive. However, since I was already traveling a lot for IBM as a IT Auditor and then for my personal travels, I don’t think I’ll need as many vaccinations as my colleagues had to get (Note: My assumption turned out to be correct. I needed 2 booster shots and everything else was in order). And of course then there is sorting out the visa. I have completed most of the paperwork for the visa, but I have confess that I have not filed it yet. First because you have to show evidence of being vaccinated against Yellow Fever. Second, the different websites I have been checking have shown different information requirements and fees. So I will contact the Nigerian Embassy in Stockholm again in early January (after the Christmas break period) to sort it out once and for all. When I contacted them earlier this month, they were very helpful and told me that with the correct paperwork, the visa should be approved and in my passport within 4 days of submission.
Today was also presentations by members of the team on certain topics relating to Nigeria in terms of culture and customs. It is a great way to get us engaged and committed to learning more about the destination country. The presentations were really good actually – I have saved them to my DropBox account so that I can have easy reference to them to read when I am community or otherwise don’t have access to my laptop. Our IBM Nigeria colleague was on hand as well to serve kind of as a point of truth and I have to say that everyone pretty much passed. Of course books and reality are always a bit different from each other, but I was impressed with the level of energy the team has. I also learned that even through I have like 14 hours of air travel, there will essentially be a 1-hour time difference between Stockholm and Ado Ekiti. No that doesn’t mean that I will be taking work calls. It does mean however that I should have less of a time adjustment to make over everyone else. Speaking of my day job – I also have to make a note to review my coverage plan with everyone covering for me and to make sure that I share it with my managers and other interested parties. I want to make sure that I am fully focused on my CSC assignment.
Frustratingly, we still don’t have our assignments for what we will be doing in Ado Ekiti. It is entirely normal that we don’t get details until Month 3 of our preparation (January….yikes! It is so close) so I look forward to getting the details in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, there is still plenty of admin and homework to be done – and I have to confess that I am behind. Guess who will be a bit busy during Christmas and New Years playing catch up?
Our next week is the first Wednesday in January. I am basically 6 weeks from departure, yet I feel remarkably calm and related about the CSC engagement. It’s the other things surrounding the engagement that have me a bit nervous But all things will work out. We have a lot of great support and material to help me be as a prepared as possible So all I can say is “bring it on!”