Looking back at 2008

1 01 2009

So ends another year. The last couple of years seem to have been eventful, the start of 2008 feels like a decade ago and I’ve had to go back through old posts to remind myself of where I’ve been and what I’ve done in the last year.

If I had to split the year into themes I might include “getting to know you (and then saying goodbye)”, “Working at it”, “reading all about it”, “I get around”, and “writing it up”.

Getting to know you (and then saying goodbye)
One of the aspects of VSO I hadn’t considered before I got out here was the transitory nature of friendships. With volunteers constantly arriving and leaving many of the people I knew a year ago have returned to their native countries, possibly the majority. Some of these had become close friends in a short period of intense time so their departures would have left a bit of a hole, although the other side of the coin is that I’ve got to know and enjoy a whole new bunch of people. I haven’t got to know many Ghanaians as close friends, mostly it’s been other volunteers mainly VSOs, with a smattering of CUSO, WUSC and Peace Corps. There are a variety of reasons for the nature and perhaps I should write about it one day.

Working at IT
In some ways this is the least satisfying aspect of the year. I’ve delivered some stuff, a couple of training sessions, the AGSP database and a few training manuals. I’ve also done some document editing and researched a bit about the shea and water industries. Part of me feels I could be doing more, going out and organising general training sessions and part of me is finding excuses for not doing that. Partly even after a year I still need to adapt (lower) my expectations of what I can achieve, partly there is a problem with ISODEC being so small in the north of Ghana and partly I’m not the best person for the job (an experienced MS Office trainer would be brill) but I am who actually is here and I need to make do with what I am.

Reading all about it
With no television, not being terribly interested in watching DVDs on a laptop and lacking the patience to persist with my “teach yourself the tin whistle” course I’ve had plenty of time to indulge my mild addiction to reading. Fortunately I discovered that Amazon deliver as well as the existence of bookshops in Accra and Bolga (and a reasonable 2nd hand bookshop in Tamale. Combined with swaps and legacy books from departing vols I’ve not been starved of reading materials. The main thrust has been to try to understand some of the issues around international development, so I’ve been reading the battling economists and come to the conclusion that it’s all rather complicated, partly our fault and that simply throwing money at the problem won’t make it go away. In fact I realise now that after all that reading I actually know less than I thought I did before I started studying. As well as the worthy stuff (and some African writers) of course I’ve read a bit of Pratchett and more general fiction. One of my pleasures in Ghana is to sit in a spot with a beer and a book reading and watching the world go by.

I Get around
Whether Bolga, Tumu and Salaga or my trip to Timbuktu, not to mention starting the New Year in Cape Coast I covered a reasonable amount of ground in 2008, and for once it was mostly on the ground too. I’ve still got a lot of places and people to visit in the new year and hopefully the new year will provide opportunities for more exploration – I’m planning on doing a bit when I finish volunteering, probably Volta Region then Togo and Benin (and perhaps a bit of sitting on beaches). Plus I still need to fulfil my promises to visit Wa.

Writing it up
And of course I’ve been blogging reasonably regularly. It’s been nice being back and hearing people say kind things about the blog but it’s also nice (albeit odd) knowing that there are people I’ve never met who regularly read my meanderings. A few of you have kindly added comments or got in contact in other ways but I’d be curious to know who else is “lurking” out there in cyberspace.

So that was 2008, overall a good year for me but I’m excited to see what 2009 brings. I hope everyone reading this enjoyed seeing the New Year in and I wish you all the very best for the rest of 2009.




3 responses

4 01 2009
John Wilpers

Hello, Tim,

My name is John Wilpers. I am the Global Blog Coordinator for GlobalPost, a new international news organization set to launch on Jan. 12 (see http://www.globalpost.com).

My job is to build a list of blogs that will appear on GlobalPost where we will have approximately 65 correspondents in some 46 countries. We are looking for enlightening, informative posts from bloggers writing (in English) in those countries.

I am pleased to extend an invitation to you to have the most recent post of “Tim in Tamale” included on the Ghana page of GlobalPost.com as part of our “Global Blogs” service. (You may have received an earlier e-mail from one of my interns; this is a follow-up as we haven’t heard from you and really wanted to include your RSS feed on GlobalPost!)

After reviewing thousands of blogs worldwide, we have found “Tim in Tamale” to be one that is thought provoking and gives readers a true sense of what life is really like in Ghana.

The way it would work if you accept our invitation is that we would use your RSS feed to place your most recent post on your personal page on GlobalPost.com. We would point back to your actual blog for comments and for archives, hopefully driving lots of traffic to your site. Each time you write a new post, it would replace the older one so only one post would appear on GlobalPost.com.

By appearing on Global Post’s exciting new international news website, your words, viewpoints, and pictures would gain worldwide exposure. Your posts would not only appear instantly on globalpost.com but also possibly on the sites of our partners, including the Huffington Post (7.8 million U.S. and 9.7 million global monthly unique visitors) and other news and information websites.

You don’t need to do anything differently. We do request that you consider pointing back to us from your blog (we will send out logos shortly for your consideration).

You should know that we have a few guidelines that we observe here at Global Post:

1) We do not publish racist, sexist, or misogynist comments (unless those comments are the subject of the post).
2) We do not publish obscene language or photos. While we recognize that obscenity can be difficult to define, we know it when we see it and we will let you know if we think you have crossed our line.
3) We do not permit plagiarism. Any work taken from another source must be attributed to that source.
4) We do not publish libelous or slanderous language.
5) We do not tolerate repeated errors of fact or misrepresentations of facts or quotes.
6) We do not publish work inciting violence.

Failure to observe these guidelines would result in the removal of your blog from GlobalPost. We would contact you, of course, to discuss the post in question.

Because we have a broad multicultural audience holding every conceivable political and religious viewpoint, we want to respect their views while also possibly challenging them. We will host controversial work. We will encourage robust debate of the hottest topics. We will not stifle discussion, only abuse of people, belief systems, and laws.

We hope these guidelines are acceptable to you.

I look forward getting your permission to put your RSS feed on our site. Please respond to: jwilpers@globalpost.com.


John Wilpers

PS If you choose to accept our invitation and would like a photo and a short biography to appear on GlobalPost, please send both to me with your confirmation e-mail or at some time shortly thereafter.

Global Blog Coordinator
The Pilot House
Lewis Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

28 12 2010
An Educational Year « The Fat Worm

[…] to write my review of the year post, which has become a bit of a tradition for me (2009, 2008, 2007 – have I really been blogging that long?) . Compared to those three this has been […]

1 01 2012
Trapped by my own tradition « The Fat Worm

[…] seemed like a good idea the first time I blogged about the year. I’ve done it 4 times now, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, and each year I’ve had some life changing event to comment on. Unfortunately for […]

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