Amena Saad from North Carolina is studying photojournalism. After deciding to take a year out and hearing about Scalabrini from another volunteer Amena applied to become a communication volunteer for three months.
I finished my sophomore year in college, and while I’ve loved my experience thus far, I was eager for a change in pace and scenery. I’ve lived in North Carolina since I was two years old, and attend a university that’s about 20 minutes from my parents’ home. I love North Carolina, don’t get me wrong, but life was starting to feel a bit too familiar. Last March, I got the opportunity to take a gap year for the purpose of international service through my school’s Center for Social Justice. I chose Cape Town as my first destination because I have yet to hear a negative review about this place (did you know Cape Town is the most revisited city in the world? gasp!).
I’d heard about Scalabrini from a previous volunteer who did the same gap year program I’m doing, and she had a really positive experience here. I was also excited by the prospect of doing work that doesn’t necessarily have my future or career at the focus, and my internship has been really fulfilling in that regard.
The transition to South Africa wasn’t too difficult for me, and I credit that to the community I’ve been able to build with the other interns, who have become great friends, and also within Cape Town’s Muslim community! I’ve grown up in a Muslim household and my religion is a big part of my identity, so it’s refreshing to have so many mosques to explore and people who are welcoming and eager to make me feel at home. I also credit my love for this area with its natural beauty; weekend hikes and trips to the beach never get old, and there’s always somewhere new to experience. Seriously- last weekend I went to three different beaches; this place is wild.
“I’m studying photo and video journalism in school, so my role as a communications intern is really well-suited to my interests. It has also promoted considerable growth, and I’ve learned so much from Jennifer, the communications manager, about different styles of photography."
On a daily basis, I interview clients and write their success stories, take photos and report on different events going on around the center, and work on smaller tasks like updating individual platform brochures and creating a new volunteer board in reception! My favorite memory at Scalabrini has been attending the Heritage Day potluck we had to celebrate our diverse backgrounds. Not only was the food delicious, but it was also fascinating to learn about the different cuisines of our staff and interns’ home countries!
My hope for the future at Scalabrini is that it maintains its positive and familial work environment. I feel so comfortable talking with and getting to know the various staff members, and am already dreading having to say goodbye at the end of all this.