"This is my first time in Africa. This is a place where I have never imagined that I would live, and so far it has been an experience I will never forget. I was so excited to come here because it was a professional and personal challenge. Everything was new for me: house, job, environment, etc. Before coming I had tried to imagine how it would be, but it is better than I ever thought.
I have been working for IOM for almost 10 years. I have spent a year in Niger working as a Resource Management Officer. Before that I was in the Philippines. There, the culture, climate and food are similar to Thailand, but here everything is so different.
One of the main obstacles I have faced here is the language. Yet, there are other ways to communicate, and I am connected with people not only by language. They are kind and generous and they know that I am still learning French and that I cannot speak it yet, so they make a great effort to understand and help me. But there is a benefit in the fact that I do not speak French, because then they must practice their English.
I feel proud to work with my Nigerien colleagues. Some of them have never been in another country and I have the chance to share with them different perspectives from abroad. I also learn a lot from them, for they are happy to share things with me. I have been to two weddings to which they invited me. It is so different and interesting. First we go to the bride’s house, then to the groom’s house and in the evening there is a party. The girls and women of the bride’s family dress up with dresses made out of tissues with the same pattern. Next they want to take me to a Tabaski, a traditional ceremony with the sacrifice of goats or sheep."