My African Union Youth Volunteer Experience – Application to training, deployment and post deployment stages

In 2015 someone sent me the link to read up on the call and to apply. I hadn’t heard of the program up to that point so I read up keenly.

 

Imposter syndrome was also like “Hey girl hey” ??‍♀️ when I considered applying.

I was working at The Times of Swaziland as Features Editor at the time. A job I enjoyed but I was hungry for something more, so hungry it made me feel like I had stagnated in my career here at home.

I was also a columnist for the Swazi News where I got to flex my advocacy muscle. I think that’s where the curiosity for diplomacy and policy making was heightened actually.

I sat on starting the application for weeks…just nerves and a lot of “what will my life look like then?”
Eventually I began.

So most NB the program is open to people with a university qualification; Diploma all the way to PHD (no for real my batch had an Algerian Dr)
It also requires you to have trackable volunteer experience because it is a professional volunteering program.

Up until 2015 the extent of my travel repertoire was up until South Africa. In November 2015 I went to Paris to attend a UNESCO funded and hosted forum. I think that’s when my life began to open up. When I opened up to possibly living elsewhere and experiencing other things.

The application is entirely done online, where you have to set up a profile and input all your information, write your personal statement and upload all your supporting documents (CV, Degrees et al)
It took me about a week and a half to complete my application. Gruelling!


only gruelling because you’re tryna put your best foot forward, right. So I worked and reworked it. Until I knew there were no more new words to explain why I should be selected among the other brilliant young Africans also vying for spot. I said a prayer and hit ‘submit’

Literal LOLz at refreshing your email to ensure you don’t miss your acceptance letter from the moment you press send. I applied in September 23, 2015 and received my letter at the end of November!

The call is open for 1 month, processing and reviewing applications also takes 1 month and from there successful applicants are notified.

Next steps involved attending a 2 week program specific volunteer training in Johannesburg. Where you are taken through an intense training on topics like:
• Core AUYVC values
• Leadership
• Your role as an AUYV and
• Life skills

After the training there is even more waiting to be done. Because of the hundreds of thousand young people who apply the program only selects 100. ? hectic! Those 100 won’t be deployed at the same time. Cause there have to be skills match&a need expressed by Depts & AU organs

I received my deployment offer letter 4 months after training. After signing all I had to sign, submitting will I had to submit I resigned from my job and began to serve notice.

I was deployed to the Bureau of the Chairperson, who at the time was Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to serve as Special Assistant to the CP. DO YOU KNOW NERVES AND STRESS?!

 

You can get deployed anywhere on the continent I was sent to HQ, Addis. You can’t travel to Addis without
•Yellow Fever vaccination,
• 50USD cash to pay for a visa on arrival (although now they have online visa services)
• Swazi huns you need a passport not travel doc

I’m just saying off the top of my head but the @AUYouthProgram is really great with helping you prepare for your travel and responding to queries.

So now you’re in Addis and have gone through immigration, you have your passport, visa and your bags. You will head out to the arrivals area and find a sea of taxi cabs, there won’t be airport pick up unless you make your own plan. There is no advice here expect Godspeed to ya

The trick though is to make friends with your fellow volunteers during training, stay in touch so when someone gets deployed first you have a place to stay for a while and have someone picking you up alternatively there are hotels.

The program gives you a settling in allowance which will ride you over while you settle and await your modest stipend. (It really is modest live smart and within your budget)

You will feel like a diplomat but high key you’re not.

Anyway I worked in the office of the CP, who I met 3 weeks after getting to Addis as she had been travelling. She was a demanding, inspiring and never cowering boss. I sat in meetings as Ambassadors presented their credentials, I basically lived at Africa House writing speeches.

I travelled with her & her team all over the continent. We worked incredibly hard and slept very little. Mostly because we mirrored her.
She would regale us with stories of her days as a freedom fighter living in exile. It was always astounding to think I was in a room with her

Once I was setting up for a meeting in her office with some or other ambassador and she called me over and asked who said I should bring in water. “You are a professional and you wouldn’t be here if your intellect hadn’t brought you here. Don’t let anyone water that down”

“I’m not saying don’t help out but don’t let anyone redefine the value you are bringing”
She said it in such a conspiratorial way and explained later that it was important for me to establish boundaries with my colleagues not for her to speak for me.

The work is emotionally and intellectually demanding but it is undoubtedly rewarding. You contribute to the crafting of policy which shapes the direction of the continent. You do something tangible for youth visibility/participation in governance structures. You travel. You learn

And you return home larger, in perspective, in experience, in expertise. There is no price to put on that.

Re: post deployment my advice would be to assume you will not be offered an employment contract because although it happens it is guaranteed. So line up a job back home so your arrival is not fraught with uncertainty. You will receive a post deployment allowance.

So that’s my experience. It was richly rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Hope this was helpful ?

If you are in Eswatini and would like to apply or think you may need help with your application please reach out. I’m happy to help. ☀️❤

Call for Application for the 2019 African Youth Volunteer corp is open: APPLY HERE

Goodluck

Contact me on Twitter : Auntiana @NonoTsh

Israel Wellington Jeremiahhttp://empowermentopportunities.com
Israel Wellington Jeremiah is the Admin and publisher at Empowerment Opportunities. A seasoned online publicist and an entrepreneur.

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