A Strong Network: Connect 123

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My internship was a bit different than what I expected and this was for the best. Specifically, there was not much direction in terms of how I was supposed to organize the event that I was planning for my host organization (which Connect 123 placed me with) However, this was not a bad thing. My supervisor simply instructed me to “go crazy” with sponsors, advertisement, and endorsements for a fundraising event in which participants were challenged to climb the three peaks of the Cape Town skyline. It was admittedly difficult to make connections and network in a city that is completely unknown to me, but the challenge was been rewarding. I found many individuals who are willing to support my company’s work in reducing homelessness, gangsterism, and incarceration by making contributions to my efforts. I also learned to communicate a non-profit business model, something I had no prior experience with.

My program coordination in Cape Town was nothing short of fantastic. I had two coordinators who worked with me. Both are natives of South Africa (Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively). They were wonderful, having provided enough guidance to see me through my first days while giving me the space to grow and discover on my own as my time in Cape Town passed. They planned social events with other students in this summer’s group on a weekly basis, from cooking events to countryside expeditions. I was so fortunate to find friends in Cape Town, both in my program and outside of it, who I believe will be comrades long into the future. This has everything to do with the strength of Connect 123's program. Since returning to Santa Clara this past academic year, I have guided friends through Connect 123's application process because I so firmly believe in it.

How can this program be improved?
Connect's program could be improved by more thoroughly auditing some individuals who come through the program. While I was lucky to connect with some really amazing people, I also met some individuals who did not seem to believe in the work they were doing in Cape Town. This detracted slightly from the group's collective resolve. It is, however, incredibly difficult to determine one's level of commitment over a Skype call, and I formed incredibly tight bonds with many people in my summer program.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
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