Collecting Memories and new Skills, while setting up Africa’s biggest Reforest Festival.
Hendrik decided to take a gap year after he finished high school. He spent three months in Cape Town for an event management internship with an environmental NGO. We spoke with him about this internship and his three weeks in the forest where he helped to organize and host Greenpop’s Reforest Festival.
Why did you decide to do an Internship at Greenpop?
I decided to do an internship at Greenpop because my brothers’ best friend told me about the internship he did at Greenpop once. I was also thinking about studying Event Management in Germany after my internship.Especially in a first world country like Germany, caring for the environment is not as big as in Africa. Just look at how Uganda forbid the use of plastic bags. That shows everything I need to say.
What were your main Tasks?
My main tasks consisted of planning parts for the upcoming events. One of the parts I planned for the Reforest Festival was a Standard Operating Procedure for the compost toilets at the festival terrain. Furthermore, I created a general plan for an electric circuit (power). I also organized the requested gear for the festival. This gear included materials and tools such as tents, water cans, pillars, music boxes, kitchen equipment and so forth. Besides this planning part, I did a lot of practical/physical work. For example, buying, organizing and moving the tools and materials for the festival and setting up, strike and production of the festival itself. I actively assisted Greenpop to host school camps for high school students.
What were your Highlights and Challenges during this Event Coordination Internship?
Honestly, I had different highlights during this internship. The satisfaction I got after striking the whole Reforest festival in 1,5 days, was definitely one of them. This satisfaction came because setting up the festival seemed like such a big task, and overwhelming in the beginning. Throughout the strike from time to time might be a little too much work in my imagination. However, as soon as you see the progress of building up the terrain and seeing things working out, a feeling of the satisfaction arises. Therefore, looking back at the job I did there, fulfilled me with proud and satisfaction!
Striking the Reforest Festival was one of my most enjoyable moments, and one of the biggest challenges. We had deadlines for setting up the festival terrain as visitors would arrive soon. Keeping up the pace of setting up a festival in sometimes challenging weather conditions, such as heat or rain, was presumably the biggest challenge. The deadline came closer as the days went by. I was able to cope with these challenges as I got to eat well, got sleep and, very important, had lots of fun with the other interns and people who were setting up the festival terrain with me.
Do you feel you made an Impact? And did the Internship personally Benefit you?
This may sound a little selfish but I, alongside a fairly small team considering the size of the festival, stayed in the forest for almost three weeks. We did not only have to give festival goers a great experience but also host Africa’s biggest reforestation festival. This is something I definitely see as making an impact, as during the festival, that is held since 2012, already more than 50.000 trees have been planted by 4.600 participants.
Regarding the personal benefits: before I started with my internship, I expected to learn for life, however, the internship has changed my life by making me a different human being, due to me, stepping out of my comfort zones. I did jobs I usually wouldn’t even consider doing like fixing compost toilets from underneath. But it wasn’t only stepping out of my comfort zones. Generally speaking, I’d say that the anticipated learning for life turned into changing my life so the internship experience more or less exceeded the expectations I had beforehand.
Additionally, the internship helped me regarding making a study choice. Although I was thinking about studying Event Management once back in Germany, I will probably study Environmental Engineering. The biggest factor why I changed my study choice was as loads of friends of mine chose to study events or something similar and their reports were nowhere near what I want to do, so, I had to reconsider.
Has the Internship helped you to strengthen or develop existing or new Skills?
Tough question, but I think the skill that was mainly strengthened was me being focused. The Greenpop team gave me a glimpse of the vision they had, and my task was to do the work within the spirit of this vision. This was only achievable if I maintained focussed, although I think it succeeded, it wasn’t always the case, as I had put my focus as well on having lots of fun as well! The most important skill, which I kind of had before but certainly not to the extent as I do right now, is being more communicative. Even though I enjoy solving problems by myself, I know how it sometimes can be really helpful to ask others for help and support.
How have you experienced your Stay in Cape Town?
My stay in Cape Town has been a great experience especially for someone being out of Europe for the first time. It felt like home including the ups and downs, but overall the upsides outweigh the downsides not least because of all the kind people in South Africa. My favorite memories are surfing at Muizenberg and watching the sunset on top of Signal Hill. I definitely will miss all the people I have gotten to know. I hope that when I come back one day, I’ll still have friends in Cape Town I can visit.
What have you learned most, and do you have any Tips for future Event Management Interns?
Honestly, too much to write all of it down but to sum it up: I have learned that if you give a 100% you will get 200% appreciation, not necessarily someone thanking you personally, but you are taking a certain weight off of someone else’s shoulders and that feels good. Take as an example that one person has very few tasks and another person has a lot of tasks and gets even more. The person with the least tasks should then step in and take one or more tasks of the shoulder of that person. That is what I have learned to do. As a tip for all future Greenpop Event Management interns, I would say: be prepared for an adventure with a whole diversity of challenges both mentally and physically.
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