My name is Wendy Guevara, and I am a senior who is graduating in the fall of this year . I am a Comparative Politics and International Relations Major, so I have always wanted to explore more of the world and college is the perfect time to do it. Unfortunately, Covid disrupted my plans, and I could not leave the county. Luckily UTC gave out an opportunity that although not the same I am so happy I did. They allowed students to do a virtual internship this past summer (2021) and I will remember this experience for a long time.
I was able to do my virtual internship based in South Africa where their program was about International Relations, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution. This was just what I have always wanted to do, look into, and gain more experience in. I was a little skeptical at first due to knowing little to nothing about South Africa. When I started the internship, I quickly learned that I was not alone in my knowledge of the country, but that was not a problem. This internship was through SIT but then each student got put into different organizations to the specific country they applied to.
I was lucky enough to be with IGD (Institute for Global Dialogue), a political NGO. The internship was more of a lecture/information class. We spent half of the time learning about South Africa and how it was before they had a true democracy and their history. Our leader of the internship, who was from South Africa, knew how to teach because he would compare a lot of stuff to the United States so we could understand the level of importance for everything he was giving us. The other half we were learning about what it was meant to be a diplomat or a foreign affairs agent. It was one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. All of the guests seemed so happy to be there even though we knew they had very busy schedules. They answered all of our questions in detail and, for a lot of us, gave clarity on wanting to pursue a career in a similar field. Another big part of the internship were the tasks that we were given to do. In this part of our internship, I was tasked with writing up a blog that had free range about international politics or anything we learned in our time there. I ended up writing about corruption in Colombia which was very interesting to me. Our blogs got published on their website which was one of the best things I could have hoped for.
Another thing that stuck out was the dedication IGD had for us. Halfway through our internship South Africa was going through some tough times with rioting and looting due to a former president being put in jail. Even though we knew they were going through a lot, some were without power and others had to deal firsthand with the rioting and looting, when it was time for our lectures, they were always so attentive and ready to be there and answer any questions we had. I feel if our superiors weren’t as attentive as they were then the virtual internship would have been a bit more challenging then what it was.
The six weeks flew by and I wished it was a bit longer, I was enjoying learning, talking and interacting with all those who were part of my summer virtual internship. Even though I was not physically there, I do not regret having this experience. It will forever be a great memory and experience in my life.
Wendy Guevara (Political Science) participated in the summer 2021 URaCE and Office of Study Abroad virtual research internship abroad to Kenya through SIT Study Abroad. Wendy had the following to say about the virtual internship abroad experience, “Even a virtual study abroad experience was more than I could have hoped for. You are dived into that community all summer and come out with knowledge beyond what you can imagine.”
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