Jennifer split her time here between Women’s Platform, BASP and the Employment Access Programme. She will be heading home to work on her thesis where she will be comparing South Africa’s migration system with Sweden’s. Read more about her time here at Scalabrini.
“I’m originally from Norsjo, Sweden, and lived there until around the age of 15, when I moved to Skelleftea for high school. Now, I attend university in Umea, and I’m doing a three and a half year social work program. I’ve chosen to study social work because I knew I wanted to work with people and was thinking about going on to become a psychotherapist! I’m fascinated by how the mind and people work, so I feel like that could be an interesting career. Since coming to Scalabrini, though, I feel like sticking to social work makes more sense because it seems better suited to my personality. It’s more interactive and less pressure, which I really like.
“I love Women’s Platform in particular because of how it works to uplift women and create a sense of community and opportunity for them."
This is my second time in South Africa, and my first time was in November 2017 when I came for a field study. I was placed in a mixed children’s home called Heathersdale for 2 months, and although I liked it, this time around feels more real and like I’m actually living here rather than just visiting.
I felt like the differences between Sweden and South Africa were much more stark last time, and now I feel more rooted and comfortable. South Africa is very different from Sweden, and I think safety has been one of the big things for me. I also think Swedish social systems are better and more organised. I love the food here, though. My favourite is fried sushi- it’s amazing.
I came to Scalabrini through an organisation called African Sunrise. I needed an internship related to social work for my university program, and my role here is a mixture of EAP, Women’s Platform and BASP. I’m in EAP every Friday and for that I help with CV creation, doing phone calls to former clients and some administrative work like Salesforce. I’d say I’m evenly split between BASP and Women’s Platform. I love Women’s Platform in particular because of how it works to uplift women and create a sense of community and opportunity for them. Seeing them become able to support themselves is awesome. I do a lot of excel and organisational work with Women’s Platform, like editing on Canva, sorting papers and evaluating survey results to see how we can improve. With BASP, I mostly help out in the lab, but I also assist with smaller tasks like student printing, and yesterday I worked on updating the student progress wall!
I’ve learnt a lot since coming to Scalabrini. Some things I didn’t even realise, like how it’s improved my confidence level. I didn’t used to like making phone calls and talking to people as much as I do now, and I’ve also learned a lot about the migrant system and xenophobia in South Africa. This position has helped me grow professionally by giving me more of a sense of direction in terms of my future career, and I have really liked working in the NGO environment and feeling like I’m making a difference in people’s lives.
My favourite thing since coming here was being involved with the BASP election week. It was really awesome to see the students be creative and come up with cohort names and logos, and also just seeing them build relationships and bond with each other. After my role here ends, I’m going back to Sweden and writing my thesis with Fanny, where we’ll be comparing Sweden’s migration system to South Africa’s. Scalabrini has been so important in influencing our studies.
My advice to future interns is to be open to mixing it up. I’ve been able to meet so many more clients and learn a lot more about the work Scalabrini does through the versatility of my role, and it’s also prevented me from getting burnt out in one area. I’d also say be sure to ask all the questions you have and be open to learning and receiving new information.”