Living and Working in Africa

For  James Kubley (‘08), responding to a challenge to go outside of his comfort zone meant leaving his safe lifestyle behind, boarding a plane, and pursuing a passionate desire to go above and beyond his call of duty. Permanently.

Only months after graduating from Bethel with a degree in Economics and Business Administration, Kubley found himself yearning to do something challenging that would also make a difference, so he began searching for more options.

That’s when he decided to apply to be a part of the United States Peace Corps, alongside 11,000 other men and women. Though his hopes were high, Kubley never expected to be one of only 3,500 chosen, let alone one of only 500 nominated for the Peace Corps business program.

Just a year later, he found himself aboard his first-ever flight overseas, on his way to Nyargia, Ghana, West Africa — a small village without electricity or running water —  to begin his two-year term of service.

Following a 10 week adjustment period of intense training and traveling, Kubley   started his job as a co-manager of more than 650 basket-weavers. He   was immediately put in charge of completing tasks in the areas of micro-financing, quality control and exportation. He also assisted West Africa Trade Hub , an organization that helps make West African businesses more competitive, by studying the impact of exportation on local economies and household incomes.

Along with adjusting to a new career, Kubley found himself making necessary changes to adapt to his new lifestyle, including learning the local language and acclimating to a life without familiar family, friends and food. However, he revisits his old lifestyle every now and then when he attempts to help Ghanaian natives understand U.S. culture — a goal of the Peace Corps — by showing American movies, playing American music, and cooking American food for local natives.

“It is difficult for them to grasp how we live in America,” says Kubley. “I do my best to be friendly, respectful and open-minded about their culture: talk to them in their language, eat the local food and invite them to my house.”

Kubley recently finished his two years of service in July and enjoyed a one- month visit with family and friends in his hometown of Plymouth, Ind. He, returned to Ghana on  August 26, for a 10 month internship with Coca Cola, where he now finds himself working alongside of the commercial manager of a bottling plant in Accra.

His focus will be on sales and distribution for five months, followed by another five months at Coca Cola’s franchise office, where he hopes to land a permanent job after the completion of the internship.

Looking back, he attributes much of his decision to live and work overseas to many college experiences, such as his roles in S.I.F.E. and Student Council, as well as his interaction with multiple international students on campus.

“Bethel really installed the importance of serving others in me… which is what Peace Corps are all about,” Kubley remarks. “Bethel equipped me with the education I needed to succeed in Peace Corps and here at Coca Cola.”

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