Why don’t we get right into this (since I’ve already dropped a huge spoiler with the category of this post, not to mention the new tab on my menu). If you’ve guessed correctly, my exciting news has everything to do with South Africa! Just over a month from now, I will be living and working in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Wha..but…how..when..uh? I’ll get to that in just a moment. I’ll be there for a total of 6 months, in which time I will be blogging as a means of communicating with family, friends and hopefully a new audience of curious readers. Directing everyone here will make it easier for me to share stories, photos, experiences, and lessons of my time in SA. Most importantly, I aim to start a conscious dialogue on development efforts in the Global South among my home community.
This will be my first time returning to the continent in 24 years (as many of you know, I was born in Khartoum, Sudan). Being a subject of wanderlust, I am so very excited to immerse myself in the culture, landscape, and history of Pietermaritzburg when I arrive. Unlike my trips to Europe, I truly don’t know what to expect. I felt the same way two years ago when I travelled to Indonesia (which was my first time in Asia), only this time I will be working rather than undergoing the tourist + sunshine mix.
I will be partaking in an International Youth Internship Program (IYIP), a program funded by Global Affairs Canada that offers Canadian post-secondary graduates the opportunity to gain professional experience through international development work. The objective of the program is to support sustainable international development initiatives by partnering Canadian associations, educational institutions, NGO’s and private companies with initiatives in the developing world. I will be under the employ of VIDEA, an NGO operating outside of Victoria, BC.
Skeptics, I see you. Keep in mind that I was a two time voluntourist, a cringeworthy reminder of my ironically unvirtuous international development contributions in the past. Only this time it’s different, because the organization I am working for, VIDEA, takes a human rights approach to development, not a charity approach. VIDEA is committed to ending global poverty and creating a more just world, and they do this by supporting the initiatives of overseas partners and communities. Every year, there are many internships offered through IYIP, with a number of organizations and institutions focused on issues such as equality between women and men, the environment, health, education, small business development, and agriculture.
I applied for a position with VIDEA in specific, because although they support many of their issues, their main focus seems to be advocating for global responsibility. I was encouraged to choose VIDEA because I too believe that we are all custodians of our planet, therefore it’s important to be a guardian of social and environmental sustainability. In our national anthem, we swear to stand on guard for beautiful Canada. But why stop there? I am in a position where I can extend that guard on an international scale.
I hope that through my experience, you too may find in yourself a global guardian that can affect change.
Post script: in future posts I will be referring to the ‘Global South’ as opposed to ‘Third World Countries’.