Why did you choose to intern in Africa?
During College I went on two study abroad trips; the first to China and the second to Botswana and South Africa. I have traveled around my whole life as a result of my father being in the US Army but no place has captured my heart quite like Africa. So when it came time for me to graduate from University I decided that I would go against the grain and take a year to explore the place that stole my heart. The reason I chose Cape Town as the city I would reside in is because of the vast difference between wealth and poverty seen sitting right next to each other in several areas. I wanted to gain an understanding of how this can be and what can be done to help bridge that gap.
Why choose THAF over other options?
On my first trip to South Africa I volunteered with African Impact in an informal settlement called Red Hill in Cape Town. Learning the history of this settlement and interacting with the residents sparked the interest in me to learn more. There are no words to describe the warmth and love I felt in that community but it was a feeling that stuck with me all the way back to the US. We interacted with other organizations while in South Africa and Botswana but I knew that I had to go back and work with African Impact. When searching for an area I would fit in I found the THAF internship and that was the only fit that would allow me to be active in the communities while finding solutions to social issues faced by their residents.
What is the average day as an intern like?
An average day as an intern can be best described as unpredictable. My time so far has been unique because I have held three positions within THAF and African Impact. I have worked as the THAF office head office intern, THAF Cape Town project intern, and the African Impact Marketing Intern. You can imagine how working in these three very different position have tough me completely different skills. As a THAF head office intern, I work on the behind the scenes work of THAF. From grant writing, to working on the annual report, to making new flyers, to posting on Social Media, to fundraising, I have been a part of it all. You also get to grasp what is going on with all of THAF’s projects across the continent. As the THAF Cape Town project intern you work first hand with the projects in that specific area. You get to plan fundraising events, manage funds for the focal projects, interact with the volunteers working there every day, and see each specific need first hand. You will get to know the communities you are advocating for and draw a personal tie to each area you are working in. My favorite part of working close to a project was seeing the finished product of your hard work. The smile on the children’s faces and the gratitude received from the communities is enough to get you out of bed in the morning. Both positions provide their own benefits and difficulties but it was such a great opportunity to experience them together.
What is life in Cape Town like? (food, atmosphere, tours and things to do)
Waking up in Cape Town every day is the added bonus to this internship. At the risk of sounding biased, Cape Town is the best city in the world! Where else can you get mountains right next to the sea with wine lands in between and some of the best surfing in the world? There are four penguin colonies, wild ostriches, baboons, rock dassies, springboks, and an animal called a quagga, which is a subspecies of a Zebra, along with several other animals. You will never get tired of exploring new places and seeing new sites. Every weekend there is plenty to see and do. Cape Town is full of markets, festivals, events, plays, great food and musical entertainment. There is literally something for every type of person to explore which makes Cape Town a favorite destination to millions. I have been here for seven months and I still have plenty on my list to do.
How do you think this internship will benefit you at home? (work life and otherwise)
Working for THAF has taught me so much about working in the NGO/Non-profit sector. Not only have I learned about what it takes to run at the capacity that THAF does but I have also learned how to be an employee. Only have ever work as a volunteer or a mentor, I had never been in a position where I have a boss that I report to so I had to learn what that meant. When working in a different country than your own you have to learn about customs and ways of doing things. You have to be able to adjust to the needs of what you are doing to work effectively. I have met some challenges in some of that but I have grown from every problem or issue I have faced. Going home I will have a unique set of skills and experience that will set me apart for other candidates in a competitive work environment. I am not sure if I will work with non-profits or in international development but either way, I have an experience that has prepared me for both.
Anything else you want to say?
If I had to make the choice again, I would choose to work here every time. What I have gained here in invaluable and I will always be thankful for this opportunity. I am not one to show emotion which makes me hard to read at times but I have enjoyed every moment here in Cape Town so far and I look forward to the next couple of months here.