Why did you decide to intern abroad with If I Could... in Cape Town?
Kathy: Before the summer of 2013, I never thought that I would be traveling abroad, especially not to South Africa, but when I read the mission of If I Could… I realized that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If I Could… appealed to me because of their promise of holistic support throughout the internship and travel abroad experience. Since this would be my first time traveling abroad alone, I wanted to ensure that I had a consistent support network that I could contact whenever I had a question, comment, or concern. The city of Cape Town sounded like an adventure and I was ready to get out of my comfort zone; If I Could… made sure that I could approach this adventure with confidence.
What made this experience unique and special?
Kathy: After conducting an interview via Skype with one of the If I could… staff I was provided with several internship options that I could pursue. Based on my interests in social work, I decided that Cape Town Child Welfare (CTCW) would be the best internship opportunity for me. My internship at CTCW was one of the many aspects of my time in Cape Town that was unique and special. As the Community Development Intern I participated in educational programs in the different townships of Cape Town and participated in a weekend camp for 24 boys from three different areas. My internship provided me with an important look into the culture and lifestyle of many Capetonians.
One of the other unique aspects of Cape Town was the days I traveled to my internship, which began with a ride on two different minibus taxis. These taxis were a primary source of adventure during my time in Cape Town; as during my daily commute I met some very interesting people and was able to ask many questions about South African tradition and culture. Although these taxis are often referred to as dangerous, I was always pleasantly surprised at their convenience and safety, except for the instances when they exceeded the 16 person seat limit and packed in everyone just like sardines.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Kathy: The combination of my internship and exploration of Cape Town has had a significant impact on me personally, socially, and academically. Personally, I have a new sense of adventure and this city has provided me with many opportunities for self-reflection, to contemplate my life goals and role in society. Within these areas I have also been impacted socially and academically; Cape Town has allowed me to meet dozens of amazing people, and from them, I have learned that I can also make an impact on their lives. As a result, I would like to continue to pursue a degree in social work, because I truly believe that I can change the world, even if it is just one person at a time.
What was the highlight of your experience?
Kathy: The highlight of my internship experience was getting to meet new people. I am naturally a gregarious person and I thoroughly enjoyed the boy’s holiday camp at the Chrysalis Academy through my internship at Cape Town Child Welfare. At this camp I was responsible for organizing activities for the boys, specifically one focusing on self-esteem. For this activity, I had the boys create a “Me Tree” which allowed them to write positive comments to each other on leaves that they could add to their individual trees; paper apples were also provided so that they could write something positive about themselves. The camp was an amazing opportunity to work one-on-one with many of the boys and observe their behavior as a group. The 24 boys were from three different townships and it was especially interesting to watch them interact and learn about and from each other.
What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad in Cape Town?
Kathy: My advice to someone considering an internship abroad in Cape Town would be to do your research. Before traveling to Cape Town I did my best to talk to friends who had studied abroad and previously traveled to this city; it was helpful to know some of the best restaurants and attractions. With this insight, I was able to begin my exploration and find other places that I wanted to visit and try. It is also important to know some of the aspects of the culture that you will be entering. I would definitely recommend spending some time to learn about the city’s history, since it is the foundation of their culture and lifestyle.