Beza – EAP volunteer
“I was born in Canada but grew up in Colorado, and ended up going out-of-state for college in North Carolina! I am currently a junior at Duke University, pursuing a double-major in African American Studies and Political Science. I ended up at Scalabrini through my study abroad program, and currently serve as an EAP intern. I chose this program specifically because I was drawn to the idea of having a hands-on internship experience, and I’ve definitely gotten that.
On a typical day, I spend 8:30-12:30 helping at the EAP desk. For the first half hour, I search and update job postings in the area, and at 9am we start seeing clients and helping them create CV’s. I spend the afternoons either teaching a digital literacy class until 4, or calling clients to follow-up with them and see whether they have found employment. I also grade tests, look up internships for specific clients, and deal with other paperwork.
“My favourite thing about being here is the clients, hands-down. I remember once having a bad day of classwork and just being really frustrated, and then checking my email and seeing that a client had sent me this really sweet and thankful email in response to the CV I’d made for him. Another client brought me a sweet gift and thank you note one time, and these little gestures of gratitude are really heartwarming and uplifting.”
This is my first time in South Africa, and honestly, I’ve loved it. I still feel like there’s so much left to learn in terms of politics, though. I came in knowing it was going to be nuanced, but there’s so much to discover. I just feel like I’m going to get home and keep reading books on South Africa to try to better understand all these nuances.
It feels like Cape Town has it all; beautiful, amazing people, beaches, vineyards, and although I’ve enjoyed my experience, Cape Town is so different from the rest of South Africa. I find myself wondering how authentically “South African” my time here has been. It’s not always realistic to explore and understand spaces like townships first-hand, and the extremes here are just so extreme. These crazy, massive mansions are 20-30 minutes from slums. I come from places of inequality, but the divides here are so much more shocking and apparent, and these inconsistent demonstrations of wealth make me very critical of my role here. People are still very clearly oppressed and facing the consequences of apartheid.
My intern role has been really impactful, and my clients’ resilience and ability to create roots, home and stability in places that don’t want them or can’t have them is incredible. They are faced with challenges like xenophobia and oppressive government structures, but I am consistently impressed by their determination and persistence in times where I couldn’t imagine myself doing the same. I have also gained a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities since coming here. It’s so validating to feel like my work is seen and appreciated; back home and in university, everything is so competitive and can make you feel like you aren’t good enough, but being here has given me the opposite feeling which is so invigorating.
My favourite thing about being here is the clients, hands-down. I remember once having a bad day of classwork and just being really frustrated, and then checking my email and seeing that a client had sent me this really sweet and thankful email in response to the CV I’d made for him. Another client brought me a sweet gift and thank you note one time, and these little gestures of gratitude are really heartwarming and uplifting.
After I leave Scalabrini, I’m going to finish my last year and a half of college and apply for the Peace Corps. I’ve always known I wanted an English teaching position in francophone Africa, and this internship has made me feel more capable of succeeding in a role like that.
My advice for future interns is to come in a position of humility and compassion every day, and when you’re at your most frustrated, to take a second and return to that place, remember why you’re here. My hope for future clients is that they feel as capable and empowered as they truly are, and to know that even in seemingly-hopeless situations, they are capable of achievement.”