Katie Elliot: my experience at Scalabrini and in Cape Town

Before I came to Cape Town and to Scalabrini I had never worked with refugees or asylum seekers before, I never even really considered it, and I had never been abroad for more than a month. However, when I arrived here at the Scalabrini Centre everyone made me feel like I am at home and I have learned so much. The open space in the office at the Scalabrini Centre allows for interns and staff to interact and learn from each other. As an All-Rounder I had the opportunity to learn about all of the different departments here at Scalabrini at work with many of them. I assisted with the English School Read and Write and English Alive program, which gave me the chance to practice my teaching skills, plan lessons and workshops, and grow as a professional and individual. It was very challenging for me to communicate clearly with all the students, especially during Read and Write when I was working with students who were not yet ready for the beginners class. Therefore, I had to find different creative ways to teach basic English reading and writing to these students, and consciously remember to speak slowly and clearly. I was also fortunate to help the Women’s Platform with planning workshops and then leading my own typing and computer confidence workshop. Although in this case I was still working with refugees, it was a bit of a different client base, which just emphasizes the diversity of the people coming to Scalabrini. Such diversity allows for interns to learn about many different cultures, meet interesting and inspiring people, and develop skills for working with people on a wide spectrum of English levels and other competencies. Overall, working at the Scalabrini Centre has been a truly humbling experience and has given me the chance to learn and grow.
My experience in Cape Town has also been very exciting and positive for me. South Africa is truly a “Rainbow Nation,” and in any given day you can meet very friendly people from all walks of life. The people in Cape Town are very welcoming and willing to help and simply have a conversation with you. Like any city it is very busy and active. There are always different things to do, museums to visit, hikes to do, markets to visit, and new restaurants with food from all over the world to try. I found it very easy to quickly adapt to the new environment and call it my new home. Although there is plenty to do and see in Cape Town, South Africa also has many other things to offer when you get the chance to travel outside of the city and into the suburbs, the coast, and the Eastern Cape. I never felt like I had enough time to get everything done that I wanted to do. I would highly recommend coming to Cape Town for these many reasons and, furthermore, because it is a great place to work/volunteer if you are looking for experience working within different cultures and with different people.

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