Thursday, December 11, 2014

Week Fourteen: Wrapping Up

By: Margaret Prunty and Celeste Erickson

With weeks winding down in Windhoek, our group participated in wrap up to end all classes. We had discussions about everything we learned in classes and what we thought went well, the speakers we enjoyed, and ways to improve. In history, we had a powerful discussion about race and Romanus gave us an analogy of how we are all members on a walk way in regards to racism. Basically, he talked about how those of us who are walking along with the walkway are perpetuating racism, but if we turn around and walk against it, we are advocating for change to stop it. There are many in betweens, but those are the two extremes and we can all be walking against racism, but that is where the challenge is. It’s easier to be against racism, but not take an active approach in stopping it and we are all called to walk against the racism walkway in making change for the bettering of the society. 

Also, in religion class, we discussed social change and how the church played different roles during colonization, apartheid, and the liberation struggle. We talked about how different texts were used to both promote and condemn colonization. It gave us insight about how differently the Bible can be interpreted and how religion can be used as a crutch for good and evil. We agreed that religion is very personal and varies all across the board, but it is up to us how we use it.

Now, we move on to integrative projects, where we incorporate everything we learned from each class into a creative presentation and deliver it. I am excited to see how each group’s project turns out and all the different variations. My group has decided to compose a children’s book that talks about equality. Right now, our plan is to read the story and discuss how it relates to all the classes. I anticipate that all the projects will be successful in brushing on a theme from each class and I look forward to the delivery of each one of them.

On top of the final wrap of classes and integrative projects, another event of note this week was the ending presentations of our internship class. On Tuesday, all seven members of the internship program presented their final research papers. Our assignment was to write about a topic that can connect both to our area of study at school and the work we’ve been doing at our specific internship site, and to connect this topic to other areas of the world. Our projects ranged from the link between secondary education and alcoholism, to the power of media on public perception. Each of the seven girls worked very hard on their papers, and the presentations were extremely informative and interesting. On that Thursday, CGE hosted an internship farewell party where each student stood and gave a brief speech on their accomplishments at their internship and said thank you to their host organizations. Though we all felt a sense of accomplishment and relief at the end of the long internship process as we were each presented with different challenges throughout our three months at our organizations. 
Celeste presenting about her internship at the farewell party!

For many of us, it was the first time working with an NGO or even working in an office setting. We had to adapt to a new way of working and learn the ins and outs of each of our organizations. Beyond this, I speak for all seven of us when I say we had to remain patient and flexible, and take a significant amount of initiative. Different from an internship we may have in the United States, most of us felt very unclear on what our roles were throughout the semester.  Between the language barrier and the general busyness within such important organizations, there was often a lack of communication. We all realized that if we wanted to get the most out of our time interning, we had to step up and take initiative. For example, in my particular internship I had a desire to work more in the field with the families and children that SOS Children’s Village assists, and to spend less time in the office. I took the initiative to meet the field officer and work out a schedule so I could have the opportunity to work with her. Though we all had to adjust to unpredictability, the skills that we gained are invaluable. While the CGE house offers a comfortable and fun environment for us to learn and bond with our fellow American students, this internship opportunity gave us the unique opportunity to not only get out into the community, but meet the individuals that make up this community and work alongside them for three months. There is no better way to truly learn about a country and a culture different from your own than connect with the community and get a better idea of some of the challenges they face today and potential solutions for them.

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