An Internship in Cape Town, South Africa

Adventures can present themselves in many different shapes and forms. As a part of my James Madison curriculum at Michigan State University, I was required to partake in a 12-week internship prior to graduation. In the hopes that we students actually learn something worthy of these twelve seemingly free credits, we were required to write two papers coinciding with the internship, bearing a James Madison faculty member’s seal of approval. Students interned at law firms, ran coffee for Michigan or United States senators, or substituted it with student teaching. The options were endless, which was not exactly ideal for someone who had no idea of where the future would take them. Thirsty for an adventure, I explored hundreds of options, without any idea of how to narrow it down. My true passion is in international affairs, so I figured that the best way to explore this field was to go overseas.

Having spent half of the previous year in Spain, I wanted a completely unique experience. I had seen Europe and wanted something a little bit farther out of my comfort zone.

So, I signed up to go to travel to the bottom of the world, two hemispheres and two seasons away: Cape Town, South Africa.

After a few bumps in the road I finally landed the best internship I could have ever imagined at the South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP) where I worked on communications and fundraising for the non-profit organization, visited various projects in the townships, and worked with students.

I lived in a rundown apartment with many different interns from across the world, commuted to work via frantic mini-bus taxis and ancient buses, and explored the exquisite natural beauty of the country in my free time. I was able to see both the buzzing, modern city center and the devastatingly impoverished townships of Cape Town. I hiked mountains, surfed in the ocean, dove with sharks, kayaked with whales, and went on safari. I learned the rules of rugby, braai-ed in the townships, and somewhere along the way the vibrant spirit of Africa was planted in my soul.

These are my South African tales of crossing time zones and hemispheres in a search for the perfect summer that changed my life.


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