The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town is bustling. Every day, dozens upon dozens of refugees and migrants enter the brightly colored building for the many services that Scalabrini offers, services that I didn’t realize I would get a chance to be a part of. Before coming to South Africa for an eight-week job, an internship-support organization spoke with me about what kind of internship I wanted, found me one with Scalabrini Institute for Human Mobility in Africa, and provided me with a description of the job I would be doing. While it mentioned the extensive research and writing opportunities and the contributions I would make to the communications sphere, nowhere in the description did it indicate that SIHMA was part of a much bigger group. It was only once I arrived for my first day of work on June 18 that I got to see what Scalabrini was, and it was so much more exciting than I had anticipated.
Since then, I’ve gotten a chance to get involved with multiple aspects of the organization and engage with the motivated and kind people who work there. My first two weeks were exclusively with SIHMA as I did research with a visiting professor from Northern Arizona University on one of Scalabrini’s very own programs, the Women’s Platform. For that work, I took notes during focus group interviews, and I am currently in the process of coding and writing a literature review for the report that the researcher will eventually write up on her findings even though she is back in the United States. I also wrote up a report on migration in Uganda for an interactive map feature on our new website. Because my SIHMA supervisor is very into the role of communications, I’ve been writing weekly blog posts. For one of the blog posts, I had the chance to sit in on a talk given by a Fulbright researcher who had been conducting research on the programs offered by Scalabrini. Her talk on the evolution of integration techniques was so interesting, and I’m glad that I had the chance to go to it as a part of the SIHMA team.
By the third week of my internship, I officially became a part of BASP (Bachelor Academic Support Program), one service offered by Scalabrini and Southern New Hampshire University where refugees can take online college classes and earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a handful of subjects. This part of the internship hadn’t been in the original description of my job, but Scalabrini had learned that SIHMA interns were usually a bit cut off from the other interns, so they wanted us to have a chance to engage with the organization and staff. In BASP, I take turns manning the computer lab and doing whatever administrative work is needed. I spent several days organizing binders of class material, something that was slow but helpful for future work here. In the lab, I’ve had the opportunity to talk help the students with their class projects while also learning about their lives and their experiences in/before Cape Town.
I’ve really enjoyed engaging with other aspects of my office, and even though having two distinct jobs leads to challenges in terms of balancing responsibilities, I’m happy to have these exciting opportunities. When comparing my internship with others from my school, I can see how truly lucky I was to get a job here at SIHMA and Scalabrini.
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