May 7, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Small enterprise development in Ghana was everything I imagined and more

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : The Peace Corps in Ghana: May 7, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Small enterprise development in Ghana was everything I imagined and more

By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, May 07, 2003 - 9:07 pm: Edit Post

Small enterprise development in Ghana was everything I imagined and more

Small enterprise development in Ghana was everything I imagined and more


RPCV, GHANA 1991-93

Small enterprise development in Ghana was everything I imagined and more. Close-of-service was approaching and I wasn't looking forward to a typical job or graduate program after the two most intense years of my life. Well, patience and persistence again paid off, and the Peace Corps Fellows Program at Western Illinois University was anything but typical.

The best decision I made was to work on my master's in Economics. The faculty are outstanding and have a variety of research interests. Graduate classes are small and intense. The international trade and economic development classes are particularly stimulating. The department actively recruits foreign students and participates in the Fulbright Scholars program. As a result, over half the graduate students are from outside the United States. This makes classes very "international." The comradery among students further enriches the graduate experience. I have vivid memories of intense study sessions after tasty ethnic potlucks. The Economics Department is very supportive of the Fellows program and was the first department to make special arrangements allowing all required coursework to be completed in the first year.

My graduate courses in Economics and Geography provided me a solid foundation for development work, and a special Fellows seminar provided ongoing practical training. My graduate assistantship in the Institute for Rural Affairs never conflicted with my studies, and gave me a unique opportunity for research and writing on rural development.

Western Illinois University is an ideal size. It provides the benefits of both a small college and a large university. Faculty are always accessible. The library is exceptional but never overly crowded. The music and theater departments have regular performances. The WIU Bureau of Cultural Affairs brings in a variety of internationally acclaimed performing artists. The campus National Public Radio and alternative rock stations are excellent. Macomb offers a few amenities (Wal Mart?), but you'll never be distracted from your studies.

I began my community work in June, 1995. I worked in lovely little Carthage, Illinois (population 2,700, 25 miles west of Macomb) with the Carthage Industrial Development Corporation. It was a completely unstructured, self-directed situation, and I used many of my "Peace Corps' " skills: recruiting and developing volunteers and leaders, organizing groups, forming coalitions, resolving conflict, working within formal and informal power structures, and so on. The experience was rewarding and surprisingly similar to the Peace Corps. Running water was nice, though.

The Peace Corps Fellows program was another exciting, intense two years. I finished with strong academic qualifications, more unique skills and experiences, and solid job prospects. After graduation, I took a position with the Center for the New West, a public policy and economic development organization based in my hometown Denver. My work involves organizational management, marketing, fundraising, and research and writing on a number of important issues. It's a dream position, and I got it largely because of the remarkable opportunities the MA in Economics and Peace Corps Fellows programs at WIU provided.

Scott Johnson
RPCV, Ghana, 1991-93

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ghana; Peace Corps Fellows



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