Friday, 23 March 2018

Exploring counterpart relationships

We are half way into our time in Mushubati and throughout the various meetings, activities and excursions we have been on, a central and constant part of our placement has been our counterparts. Living with a counterpart is an integral part of the ICS voluntary placement. It’s a constant support network for both of you, and now, five weeks into living in Rutsiro, it’s impossible to imagine the placement without them.

Although we have grown up in different continents, with (in some ways) very different cultures we can still discuss serious issues surrounding global development, share stories from our respective homes, and joke around with each other.

The ICV counterparts enable UKVs to feel part of the host family from Day 1 via translations. However, this is just one of many exchanges that take place between counterparts; from handwashing clothes and cooking on charcoal, to music and ideas on faith and religion. The different experiences and perspectives we both possess as twos and also as a whole team make us a supportive, stronger and more successful team.
Team with community

During discussions we have had surrounding marketing and communications for Kopakama Coffee Cooperative it has been our collective ideas that have spurred discussion forward, enabling us to present suggestions to Kopakama that we all feel confident in. During field work with Ejo Heza in maintaining coffee trees, when building kitchen gardens and during nutrition demonstrations, working as a team who get on socially has helped team spirit. Flexibility, patience and adaptability are the key to good team work on placement. 

However, we are one counterpart down after one ICVs job success (congratulations Clarisse). UKV Edana remains last volunteer standing in her host home, showing the importance of her welcoming and friendly host home; where the language barrier has not stopped them from continuing to host Edana. Team movie nights, walks, trips to Karongi and card games allow her to be every duo’s welcome and loved third wheel. 

Lydia and Sarah M

Similarities: Both counterparts share a birthday, enjoy having down time and peace and quiet, and both hate mornings.
Difference: Lydie loves napping a lot more than Sarah
Counterpart highlight so far: Sharing birthday celebrations on 1st March, and sharing the experience of Lydie’s first jog – she thought she wouldn’t make it but she persevered and succeeded

Ange and Laurissa

Similarities: Both counterparts enjoy Afro beats, and both have naturally big curly hair
Difference: Laurisa likes to sleep in her free time and Ange likes to watch movies
Counterpart highlights so far: Connection over shared music taste, sing together and share headphones on bus journeys

Vanessa and Sarah L

Similarities: We are both a bit crazy and have no concept of time, we have a good dynamic where we can be honest with each other and make fun of each other
Difference: Vanessa is elegant and a lady, Sarah is clumsy and has no control of her limbs
Counterpart highlights so far: Dancing together…very differently

Sam and Eric

Similarities: Enjoy football, and have a similar sense of humour
Differences: Sam likes to read and Eric does not like it a lot
Counterpart highlight so far: chatting with their host dad and volunteer learning at Gisenyi 

Edana and the Kings (host family)

Similarities: Shares a similar dry sense of humour with her host Mum
Differences: Generational difference with her host Nana, about clothing, but always says it with a smile
Host family highlight: spending time with the family in the evening over dinner, especially building relationships with their two children

Chantal and Donald (Team leaders)
Similarities: Both share Christian faith
Differences: Differences in communication skills and different ways of addressing people
Counterpart highlight so far: Helping each other to lead the Rutsiro cohort 3

Written by Sarah Losasso 

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