The Tremendous Value of an Intern

In the winter of 2012 Project Wezesha was contacted by an undergraduate student via email:

My name is Katy Lindquist and I am an anthropology student at Colby College in Waterville, ME.  I am very interested in volunteering for your organization this summer.  As an anthropology student, I have become very interested in grassroots organizing and local movements especially focused on human rights and education.  I am interested in learning what the situation looks like on the ground and comparing how a local aspect compares to the overarching Western perspective I am used to.  I have been wanting to travel to Tanzania for years now and have done quite bit or academic research on Central and Eastern Africa.  Please let me know if your organization is open to international volunteers and if so what a three month summer commitment might look like.

Katy, our fabulous intern from Colby College

I instantly perked up because we had always wanted an intern, but were uncertain about recruiting and management procedures. In all honesty, I didn’t know exactly what we would do with an intern, but what I did know was this: the 3-4 weeks that I spend there every year is nowhere near enough time to do the deeper work that I’ve always wanted to do. When I’m there every year, I have big ideas about women’s groups, health initiatives, small enterprise endeavors, getting to know teachers strengths and challenges, etc. However, when I hit the ground – I am running. It seems that there is always some issue to address, some conversation to be had, some crisis to investigate – and often not related to Project Wezesha directly, but perhaps involving our students or other community members that we work with.

So – throughout the Spring of 2012 Katy and I communicated about a plan of action for her time in Mgaraganza. We organized the logistics of housing, travel and length of stay and we brainstormed projects for her to tackle while there. The work Katy did in the 2.5 months she spent in Mgaraganza Village was invaluable.

Jane - Katy's host 'mom', friend and future entrepreneur

She held meetings with women’s groups to investigate their grassroots efforts at micro-finance; she spent hours in the classrooms teaching the students and gaining an insider perspective on the biggest challenges to teachers and students; she was instrumental in setting up a new scholarship application and accountability process with the village leaders; she investigated local women’s entrepreneurial ideas; she initiated a mentorship model with five of our young students;  and, most importantly, she was a phenomenal ambassador for Project Wezesha, Colby College and the US through the relationships she made and the positive interactions she had with many in the community.

Katy (far left) and Rai with Isaya's Family

As Katy settles into Fall semester at Colby College, she’ll be compiling a report on her experiences in this internship. As that report develops, we’ll share with you the insights she gained and her recommendations from her new ‘insider perspective’.

Thanks Katy! You’ve really moved Project Wezesha forward in a positive, hopeful direction! Asante Sana!!

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