When I look back and remember how I hesitated to travel abroad, I know that I have evolved, emotionally and professionally speaking.
Needing to do an internship as part of her studies, Auriane decided she wanted to venture abroad for it. As intimidating as it can be to have a first experience abroad, she took the plunge and accepted a three month NGO Management internship in South Africa, and she has no regrets.
How I got here
I had to do an internship for environmental study, so I decided to take this opportunity to travel abroad for the first time. I did a lot of research on the internet, looking for the right organization and finally found Roots Interns’ website which appeared to me be trustful. We had a lot of Skype calls and they took the time to ask me what I was looking for.
Because I wanted to work for the conservation of wildlife, they matched me with an NGO called African Impact Foundation. We talked a lot about my requirements, including my English speaking and professional skills in conservation. When they talked to me about leopard research with camera traps, I decided to apply for it.
My Initial Impression
My first fear was that I would be in an insecure place and have trouble understanding everyone. Now I just wish I could go back again. It was a complete journey and I learned a lot concerning conservation. During the first week, they introduced us to the team, explained the aim of the conservation research and also the photography project and communities. After that, they explained to me the subject of my internship which was to find the environmental impact on leopard’s behavior and explained the need for the camera trap for conservation research.
For two weeks I worked on my bibliography research about my project which was hard because of the lack of studies and the difficulty in understanding the articles. I spoke with the staff member, the volunteers and interns, all which had different accents from England, Holland, Belgium, Australia, Canada, Japan and many more. So, it was hard at the beginning but my comprehension and speaking increased every week.
At the same time as my research, I worked on a project with another intern on new camera traps locations in a specific area. We had to understand how to place a camera trap that had the best chance to capture a leopard’s picture. It was hard work and thanks to our research team and the guide’s knowledge we found five new spots. It was so amazing to have so much responsibility and I’m grateful that my supervisor let us be in charge. In the end we were able to identify two leopards and found other elusive species which was very exciting.
I also had the opportunity to participate in a QGIS workshop and a reptile orientation. I didn’t have any skills in conservation. In the beginning they made me take a step in this field. Thanks to the workshop I was able to map my results. I have collected data of 3 years of research and made a presentation of my work at the end.
Outside of Work
Despite all the hard work, I was also able to participate in a community project. I helped to maintain a farm, read books with children and also organized fundraising events like a barbecue, selling crepes and fitness activities. I went with some research volunteers to a game drive. We camped in the middle of the wildlife. We saw leopards, elephants, rhinos, antelopes, snakes, and many other animals. I would say that my biggest discovery was the job of the guide. They were so amazing and took the time to explain to us everything about the fauna and flora, astronomy and geology.
For anyone who wants to do an internship abroad, I would recommend this NGO one hundred percent and I will encourage you to take on this unique experience.
Disclaimer: Auriane’s internship was a very unique experience. To create your own experience abroad, tell us what you’re looking for or check out some of our other NGO Management Internships
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