One of the most beautiful experiences I had in 2021 was a project trip with the Institute for Sustainable Education and Development (ISEDE) to the Republic of Benin to partake in the organisation’s Sustainable Development Goal 8 project. The project’s first phase was implemented in Cotonou and Porto-Novo, respectively and took place from the 1st of October to the 17th of October 2021. The organisation and preparation of the German participants to the Republic of Benin were well planned and organised by ISEDE, making it easy for the participants to travel to Benin. We arrived at the Republic of Benin at night and received a warm welcome to the Republic of Benin with friendly gestures from our host.
Workshops characterised the project with a group of tertiary students from Benin, where we engaged in sub-topics under SDG 8. We presented SDG 8 from the perspective of our countries of residence; this was an eye-opener to the various participants since we got to know what measures were or were not in place in both countries in meeting the global benchmark for SDG 8. We had experts gracing most of our discussions with their in-depth and practical knowledge on the topic and making us partake in mini-group projects to broaden our understanding of the topic of discussion. One of the exciting activities I found was our street interview with the locals; we had the chance to interview several people on the street to know their views on the SDGs especially SDG 8. To our surprise, most of the people had no idea about the SDGs and we took that opportunity to educate them on the SDGs which they found exciting and started engaging with us on some practical examples in Benin.
We had a lot of exciting programmes and educational activities during the entire period. One of which was our biggest conference that took place at Porto-Norvo. We had several students, civil servants, and a distinguished professor (Dr Gogan Benjamin) attending the event. The forum had two sessions. The first session was a presentation by the guest speaker; Dr Gogan Benjamin. The second one was an interactive session for both the German and Benin participants to present at the conference. The Benin team had several questions about Germany in meeting SDG8 and were intrigued about the standard of living in Germany. The meeting was covered by Benin’s media (television and radio stations).
The project ended with an intercultural night between the German and Benin participants. I was thrilled with the beautiful culture of Benin, its traditional dances, songs, food, and clothes. In addition to that, the people of Benin are amiable, easy-going, polite, and welcoming to visitors. Benin also has several historical sites which we visited during our stay and learnt a little about the country’s history.
The 17th of October came very quickly, and we had to go back to Germany. It was a difficult moment for me since I had made new friends in Benin and enjoyed the beautiful culture. We flew back to Germany on the 17th of October with each of us having a favourite food from Benin, and of course, we got ourselves beautiful souvenirs from Benin. It was a beautiful and successful project organised by ISEDE and I would not hesitate to apply to any upcoming projects from ISEDE.
Adelaide Gyarteng Mensah