Erhard Zeiss is the second colleague from corporate communications who told me how he prepares for the upcoming trip to Accra.
When I talked to him I recognized that Africa has been in his mind for a long time. What he reports to me sounds like the first sentences in an adventure story:
“When I was on Tenerife in September we went up to the Teide, Spain’s highest mountain. From up there you have a wonderful view on the neighbouring islands of La Palma and El Hierro. The tour guide pointed to the horizon: ‘And there’s Africa over there!’, he told us. Just a little more than 200 kilometres away. I have never been closer to the ‘black continent’.”
And then there’s this promise he made to a friend years ago ….
“Like my colleague Marcel I’m ashamed to admit that there were a hell of a lot of oportunities to go to Africa in the past decades. A very close friend of mine, she has been living in Africa for the last 20 years. At first in Benin, then in Mali, after that in Cameroon, and now in Burkina Faso, in the direct neighbourhood of Ghana. When it became clear that I would join the PASCAL-team for Accra, Birgit told me that this time there was no excuse for not visiting her. But to keep me from travelling all alone in a foreign country, not used to everyday life, she will come over to meet me in Accra. I really appreciate that.”
But Erhard is also very straight about this trip beeing a great adventure from the working point of view:
“Treading on terra incognita: The greatest challenge confronting us is doing press work in a country where we don’t know how it is done there – who would have known e.g. that journalists simply need money to cover the costs of travelling to the WASCAL headquarters where fallschool and hackathon will take place? I’m eager to learn more about their conditions of work. Are they able to work independently? Are they paid properly? What is their position in Ghanaian society? Are they proud of their work? A lot of questions: I’m sure I will find answers – at least some.”
He has a long list of tasks to get done before taking off:
“Because of the lack of experience and knowledge I’m very glad that colleagues at the German Embassy and at WASCAL offered their help and assistance. Thank you in advance! Before we’ll leave for Ghana, they will send out information on the the PASCAL-project and the week in Accra to journalists via their mailing lists, including an invitation to come and report on the project in whatever media – in Ghana e.g. radio is a big thing. Our aim of cause is to reach and meet as many interested journalists as possible, and it would be a big success if we managed to do so.
Next week I have to prepare a press kit and collect other material we need. Once we’re in Accra, we’ll have to support journalists, to bring them into contact with scientists and participants and if necessary to make arrangements for interviews or shootings. Marcel and I, we’ll be the „men in the middle“, always at hand when needed.”
We who stay in Jülich wish our colleagues and the whole Accra team the very best. We know that Marcel and Erhard will be perfect “men in the middle” …