My South Africa adventure has started with my visa application. After a challenging visa application and interview process to get in South Africa, my passport was back to me with the visa after two weeks of painful waiting.
Right after a long flight, I landed and straight went to the office. On the way to the office, I was very excited because it was my first time in Africa and I have placed the organization and country which I really want to do my internship. Johannesburg looks really green as I expected. As a sunset lover, I need to say the sunset looks amazing here!
Feel like a home with warm and welcoming people around
I was welcomed by colleagues in the office and took a tour. I am planning to travel around South Africa but the main reason is I am here to work and learn. I already started to do work for the project on teacher education in Sub-Saharan Africa before I arrived. In my first day, I was given a tour and met my colleagues.
I have a great mentor Kelly, who is Penn IEDP alumni, has made a work plan to get the best out of this internship experience. She made me have all different types of experiences on the work even from my first week. My mentor is not only a great role model for my work but also a very good friend. I am staying in a room in her beautiful house. We are having a great time together with a conversation on our cultures, development works, IEDP program, and previous travel and work experiences. We are cooking together and already tasted delicious Japanese soup. Also, people in the office are very friendly. I was already invited to weekend gatherings to socialize with my colleagues.
There are two friends from my lovely IEDP cohort here in Johannesburg. They are Sharanya and Nicole are working with another organization here. Having friends from the cohort is great. We have already met to explore the city together and had some adventure(Bungee jumping from 100 meters!)Although the climate, plugs and the direction of the traffic are quite different than what I used to, my mentor, colleagues and IEDP friends make me feel like a home. I am taken care of very well.
Delicious food in a new culture
My stomach is very sensitive and generally have a problem with eating new food abroad in my first week. Here I haven’t had any problem with the food. Additionally, I should say that the food is really delicious here and try to taste local food. Especially as a Turkish person from the land of kebab, I cannot deny I have eaten the most delicious steak I have ever had here in South Africa. Additionally, I am having Japanese food which is made my lovely mentor.
I am already spoiled with delicious braai culture on Sundays. Braai is South African barbecue. It is more than just a barbeque, about socialization and sharing the culture. It is like a potluck party which family and friends converge on a picnic spot or someone’s home(usually the garden) with their own meat, salad, and drinks. It was a great opportunity to experience the culture with delicious food.
Work with traveling is the best as I wish!
I am so happy to say that my internship includes work with traveling which is what I exactly want. Thus, it means that I did not lie in the consulate and customs about my plans for South Africa. From my first week, I went to Limpopo which is a state of South Africa, to attend the workshop on the strategic planning on building partnerships among stakeholders. It was a great experience to see the way of supporting collaborations and communication among stakeholders. After this workshop, I have had a better understanding of the participatory approach “working with and for people” which we discussed during the pro seminar class at Penn.
The work I have done so far is really flexible which allows me to get valuable experience to align with my interest thanks to my mentor. I am working on early childhood project and teacher training project. I have been in business development meetings which is a really unique experience in building a relationship with different partners for the future projects.
There will be so much work and things to do on my bucket list to enjoy my internship with new adventures in South Africa. I will share all them in my next blog post.