volunteer cape town advocacy 04 10 19

Max Obmsacik – Advocacy Volunteer

Max came into Scalabrini with knowledge of American law, history and politics. He is half way through his time volunteering with Advocacy and will be taking home a plethora of knowledge by the end of it. Read about his experience so far below. 

“Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been. I just can’t get over the mountains juxtaposed with the water right there. There are so many different cultures coming together and you meet all these unique people, not just from South Africa, but all over the continent in this beautiful setting. 

“Working here has really helped reinforce that I do want a career in public service, whether that’s in the government or a non-profit I’m not sure, but being around all the people that work at Scalabrini who are so motivated and wonderful and doing such good has been really powerful for me. 

I had a very good friend who interned here in the Spring. I got a grant from my school and was talking to her, she would not stop raving about it (Scalabrini) so I messaged Sally and they had a spot. 

I’ve learnt so much, an absurd amount. My background is in American law and American history and American politics, so it’s been a non-stop barrage of information. I’ve just been learning a ton, especially about the lengths that migrants go to to get to the places that they arrive and hearing those stories has been pretty remarkable. 

We have clients that come with very different problems. A pretty interesting thing is that my department is often the very first stage. We see clients who are brand new to the country, many of whom do not speak any of the South African languages, but then I see my colleagues who work in the Employment Access Programme working with people with documentation, who are adjusting to South Africa and who are applying for jobs. It’s cool to see the entire process and I hope that this centre can remain somewhere that people can go and get help, whether it’s documentation, employment, general welfare assistance or education.

I think working at Scalabrini has really made me think a lot about what I want to do with my life and the position of privilege that I have, that I am able to go to university and I’m able to live in a country where there are lots of opportunities and I kind of have my choice. Working here has really helped reinforce that I do want a career in public service, whether that’s in the government or a non-profit I’m not sure, but being around all the people that work at Scalabrini who are so motivated and wonderful and doing such good has been really powerful for me. 

A high for me was the recent World Refugee Day. I thought that was so cool. A lot of the work that we do day to day is not always optimistic work because sometimes it feels like we are working against some powerful forces, but to see that day was just a celebration of these migrants who have come from all over this massive continent, all getting together and sharing their stories was definitely a high. A low is that the office can get cold, temperature wise, but besides that there haven’t been any big lows. It’s been a very positive experience. 

I’ve worked a lot of internships over the last few years and I haven’t had one that’s nearly as supportive as this. It’s been a wonderful, well supported internship experience.