I’ve been in South Africa over a month now, so this post is way overdue.
(Sorry Dr. GK!) But we’re here now and that’s what matters.
In case you didn’t know, I’m in South Africa on summer internship for the last credit of my Master’s degree. I’m working for an education NGO in their monitoring and evaluation division which means a lot of data analyzing, recording, and table-making. Plenty of reading, some meetings, and also some fieldwork. It’s been really interesting so far and I’m learning a lot about what it means to work in international educational development.
I’ve been on the continent of Africa before having spent two summers in Ghana as a Cornell undergrad. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there so I was excited to be coming back to the motherland. And while South Africa is obviously on the continent, the parts I have been exposed to have a very different look and feel. Most of the time I feel like I’m in Barcelona or Miami, especially in Cape Town, because of the architecture and because it’s very w-h-i-t-e. But, more on that in another post.
I think the coolest thing so far has been doing the work of my field. Actually doing in real life the things I learned about in school and putting countless readings, lectures, and assignments to use. It makes me feel a lot better about the money I paid and will continue to pay off for this degree.
Development work is hectic. It’s harried. It’s contested. At times, I’ve been conflicted about why I’m here and if this type of work is something I should carry forward – especially because the more I engage in it, the more I’m reminded of how much work needs to be done at home in the US. But, I’m here for the summer. I’ve been here 6 weeks. I’ll be here another 6 weeks. Hopefully, in that time I can make or find some peace with the work I think I want to do.
My organization seems to be one that has both its mind and its heart in the right place. But, I can’t help thinking about how separate and unequal things are here. Now, it’s only been twenty-three years since apartheid ended so the country is obviously still going to have a lot of work to do. I’m hoping to work out how I feel about the small,small role I’ve played in some of the work this summer – to work out how I feel about development over all.
Anyway, here are some pictures. Gabby Takes ZA!