The 1st of October 2014 was a milestone for me – both personally and professionally: I moved from Sweden to Vienna, I made a big career change to start working as development aid worker and for the first time ever I was going to start working for a non-Swedish company. I only recently realized that all my working life I had been working for Swedish companies –even thought I am German.
The first 7 weeks of my “New Life” I was based in Vienna – the headquarter of my new employer: an NGO engaged in Development Cooperation with third world countries.
Together with 11 like-minded I was scheduled to participate in a 7 week preparation training which was going to qualify me as a so called Technical Advisor. We were a very mixed group of from Austria and Germany between 30-55. All of us had different professional backgrounds ranging from business managers, vocational teachers, carpenters, controllers, construction & water engineers and architects. For the upcoming 2 years our lives would be turned around up-side down. We were assigned to work for different projects in countries like Uganda, Mozambique, Kenya and Papua New-Guinea and would soon leave our well-know comfort zone.
The training was going to prepare us for the challenges ahead of us. It should provide us with specific tools and skills needed to be a development worker in demanding environment and for working with people of diverse cultural and social backgrounds. Thus topics covered were focusing on Intercultural Competence, Change Management, Coaching and Training & Workshop design in challenging environment. (I.e. how to train someone who is illiterate or how to train with limited facilities and resources). Apart from that we were also given intensive practical training like a 3-days off-road driving course, Emergency Health and Security Training like how to deal with hijacking. Although all topics were extremely interesting the off-road driving and the security training were my favorites.
Our days were filled with role-plays and simulations while the evenings were booked with self-defense training, After-work mingling and of course wine and beer tasting.