Meet Berkley from the USA, who is interning on Intern Abroad HQ’s Social Work Remote Internship out of Tanzania. Here, she takes us behind the scenes of her online internship with a Community Based Organization…
During my first week interning with a Community Center for my remote internship program, I learnt many things about the culture in Tanzania - from their social justice system, to how their government is handling the Covid-19 pandemic. I knew that interning would be an eye opening experience, but I did not expect to learn so much in a short period of time…
Making a difference on a remote internship
My virtual internship role is to collaborate with the community center to offer better solutions for their clients. The needs of clients vary - for example, some have disabilities and some cannot read. My job as a virtual intern is to research and find creative solutions, as the community does not have access to many materials and tools which can be utilized to support clients. We do conference calls with all of the workers of the community and I am helping make a difference for each of their clients.
Even though I am not physically in Tanzania, I am helping to find new reading materials, secure places at boarding schools for individuals with special needs and develop exercises for a client who is physically disabled. I have also contributed tools to help reunite a daughter with her biological mother, as well as researching how to make hand sanitizer, which supported an enterprise program for mothers who are funding their children’s education.
Making cross-cultural connections
One of my most memorable moments was having all three of the local workers tell me how excited they are about having someone from the United States interning with them, as they have never worked with someone from the USA before. Our calls might be early in the morning for me, but it is worth it to see how I am making an impact on their community within just a week.
Cross-cultural learning is a big part of my internship placement. Most of the workers are from Moshi, Tanzania, but there is one worker from Germany as well. It gives me a lot more insight into more than just one culture and I was not expecting that. I am actually thrilled to learn more about different cultures, rather than just one.
The challenges of a virtual internship
One challenge that I have personally encountered during the remote internship has been hearing about life in Moshi and how different their culture is from mine. It saddens me to know that people are living in underprivileged circumstances and that there is no government help for schooling. After our first conference call, I did research on my own to better understand the schooling system and government. It definitely helped me with the next conference call that we had.
Sometimes there will be miscommunication, especially with the time difference between us, and there can be difficulties in understanding one another. However, the prospect of challenges did not stop me from pursuing this internship and opening my mind to other cultures, languages and ways of communicating.
My advice to others who are thinking about pursuing a remote internship would be to put the effort in to communicate with others. Never give up, because by just the second week of the remote internship, I could already see such a difference that I had made.
Coordinating a schedule for an online internship
Time management is the best strategy that I can use to address the time difference challenge. We have found a time that works for all of us to have our conference calls and I have learnt how to manage my time better to help smooth out any communication difficulties. The team has also provided me with insight into how to communicate better. This will definitely help me in my career and with any other international experiences in the future.
How interning remotely is helping me achieve my goals
This internship is helping me get closer to my long term goals because it is allowing me to work with a different culture, which is what many social workers do. It is teaching me to adapt to new ways of learning. It is opening my eyes to the world of social work and what to expect when I enter the field. It is enabling me to get my foot in the door and it is allowing me to make a difference in the organization that I am interning for.
The skills I have learnt so far include how to write a professional email, manage my time effectively and immerse myself in someone else’s world that is different to mine. These skills will all help me along my career path and allow me to understand that each case is different, as everyone comes from different backgrounds and needs a different kind of help.
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