By Francesco Wang
I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2016. I had little idea of what to do in my life. It is a feeling shared by thousands of other graduates. Most of my friends were going to embark on their corporate journeys or study a master.
As for me, I was going to Zambia to tackle poverty through developing small and medium enterprises. It was only a 12 weeks programme, but this experience in Zambia changed my perspectives on many things in life.
Learn to be adaptable
Whether you are riding on a packed bus squeezed like sardines on your way to work or compromising a price with the taxi driver, you have to do it yourself. You will begin to build on your communication, negotiation, and flexibility skills. This set of skills is invaluable at any workplaces in an ever-changing business environment. Once you are self-reliant, you become more confident and a better version of yourself. You are immersed in a new country and a different lifestyle. The culture shock can be overwhelming, so learning to become adaptable is key to overcoming any challenge.
I worked for Fruit D’Or (FDO), a fruit curer and distributor of bananas, oranges, and apples in the Copperbelt province of Zambia
A typical day consisted of going to work at 8:00am and finishing at 4:00pm. During those 8 hours, my team and I would do different tasks such as rebuilding an accounting system using excel, designing t-shirts for marketing, interviewing the street vendors to gather qualitative data.
Be a global change maker
I remember walking down to work on a bright, sunny morning. The traffic was buzzing in the background, and then one Zambian guy approaches me with an affable smile asking if I could provide him with a job. I was not in the position to give an employment contract. Though, he walked with me to work, because I had a contact that could lead to a job. I introduced him to Tom. He works at the front desk sales and also in charge of the casual workers. Tom started off being a casual worker and worked his way up. They exchanged contacts and told him to come next week to start working. I realised that we are all alike. We all want to work and be productive members of society. However, some are not as fortunate as we are. In developed countries, we all receive a compulsory education and we apply for jobs via the Internet. Whereas in developing countries, education is a privilege and employment is a scarce commodity. After coming to Zambia with Challenges Worldwide (ICS), I understood that if I can’t provide jobs, I could connect people with opportunities. Every generation gets a chance to change the world, so take action and be the change you want to see.
Discover what it is truly important for you
Adding value is a basic human instinct. Through this experience, I found out that I want to be that positive difference in the work that I do and the people that surround me.
My reasons for coming to Zambia are to give my contribution to ending poverty and providing decent work and economic growth for all.
I think the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) are every citizen’s responsibilities. Imagine if every person in the world engages with these goals, visualise the positive impacts we could have. Poverty will belong to the past and everyone will have decent work. I see life as an opportunity to leave my mark in the world. Imagine you couldn’t fail. Where would you go? What would you do?