It is hard to believe that I have spent 3 months in South Africa already! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of travels amidst completing my internship deliverables.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am involved in an ECD project that aims to provide kindergarten teachers with skills and support to ensure holistic development and school readiness for the students. Five teacher workshops take place throughout the year along with school-based support visits (trainers observe the teachers all day and then have a feedback session with them). My task was to compile all 5 teacher workshop modules into one document that would be ready to publish. This consisted of a LOT of formatting and editing work. The 5 modules have also been condensed into 15-20 page booklets for preschool teachers. I also compiled all the preschool booklets into one document. This took me almost a whole month to complete!
Despite my race against the clock to finish editing 350+ pages, I took two weekend trips! My first trip was to Malawi to visit fellow IEDP cohort mate, Colin. We took quite an adventurous drive to Lake Malawi (we drove on a dirt path through the middle of nowhere for hours in an old, screechy rental car) and spent the weekend relaxing on the lakeshore and playing cards.
My second trip was to Durban with another IEDP cohort mate, Aynur! The weather was absolutely beautiful, so we spent the weekend walking miles along the beach, shopping at street markets, eating lots of food and even climbed 500 steps to the top of the sports stadium!
Reflecting on my three months in South Africa, I can safely say I have had some great times. I have met some amazing people, experienced more of the South African culture through my travels, and learned a lot about the NGO world. There have been many instances during my internship where I have questioned my work and the work of others in the development space. I have seen how inefficient planning and management and a lack of consensus within a team can greatly affect a project (and the organization as a whole) and it leads me to think about why we even engage in development work. Perhaps the state of education would be better if no one meddled in it, instead of executing poorly planned projects. I have been forced to think about where I stand in all of this and how my actions (the work I do, the ideas I contribute etc) are all done with good intent but could negatively impact (and potentially worsen) the lives of the people on the receiving end. All our discussions from Prosem about identity, ethics and working with individuals with different ideas and beliefs have become more than just discussions to me. I have had to think about these concepts outside the classroom and engage with them in the real world. I still have a lot of questions, and maybe I won’t find the answers any time soon (or at all) but this internship has exposed me to the realities of NGO work, the tedious backend office work that must be done to complement fieldwork, and the tensions that arise when individuals of different backgrounds all work together, and for this, I am grateful.