Alumni Spotlight: Rachael Allison


Why did you choose this program?

I chose the Projects Abroad Ghana journalism project because it offered an amazing opportunity. I am studying journalism, hence the decision to do work experience of the same subject. I picked Ghana because I wanted to experience a country with a completely different culture and way of living to the UK, and also be able to report on issues that may not be covered in the UK.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Projects Abroad helped was very well organized; they had set up my own web page, so I had a to-do list of everything that I needed to tick off myself. For example, getting my visa and yellow fever injection.

They were good at communicating with me before I flew away, while on my travels to Ghana and also when I arrived in the country. I had to organize my own visa and set up my yellow fever injections, and I had to make sure I had all my documents together. I could book my flight through the company as well, but I chose to fly separately and they stored all my documents for me on the web page and ensured that I was ready for my trip.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If I was to give anyone advice, it would be to make sure you stay as long as you possibly can. I only spent two weeks in Ghana, as I was afraid of staying their too long and the possibility of not liking it, but I wish now that I stayed for at least a month - the weeks roll by so quickly it would be nice to have seen so much more of the country; after all, it’s as big as the UK and you cannot see all of the UK in two weeks, especially if you’re also working at the same time.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average week would be coming into the newsroom from Monday to Friday around 9/10 am, shadowing and assisting on assignments. For example, some of the assignments I went to included going to schools and interviewing children, attending a waste plant tour with the MPs of Ghana and reporting on different communities within the region. I will help with interviewing people and have my own questions lined up ready to ask.

Some days I will stay in the newsroom to help edit pieces and also help voice news pieces. I also help to write scripts, such as the international news section

In the evening, myself, my roommate and others on different projects would go out to restaurants in the evening or the projects abroad staff would arrange for us to do something such as learning how to drum, dance the Ghanaian way, or cook some Ghanaian food.

On the weekends, we are able to do what we want. I was only there for one weekend, so we traveled to a part of the country to do a bit of traveling and hiking.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear of going abroad was only not knowing what to expect. There is no real way to overcome such fear: you just have to be daring, and it was amazing to find out how welcoming everyone was when I entered Ghana.

My views changed with getting to know more people and having the support from not only the Projects Abroad staff but also the other volunteers who were with me in the country at the time.

Why is this project something people should consider to do?

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience another culture, to learn another language, to be a part of something special and help others.

The trip will change your mentality and it is a great way to learn from others in different countries and go on adventures to find out the history of another country. People should consider doing this project to gain so many skills such as reporting in another environment, communicating with people who have a different background to you and also building on your own personal skills.