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How I became an Urban Greening intern for 6 months in South Africa

Hey there! My name is Sophie, I am 18 years old and I just finished high school in Germany a couple of months ago. For my gap year, I was initially thinking of traveling the world. However, as soon as I started planning, I was struggling to find reliable and suitable organizations.

Luckily, a friend got me in contact with Greenpop and Roots. They recommended me to do an environmental internship with them, which could not have been more perfect for my gap year! As a Roots intern, I was able to really get to know Cape Town more in-depth, enjoying all the amazing experiences with my newly made friends. Besides, I got the opportunity to invest my time in a very useful way. I learned a lot about life in South Africa while giving back at the same time.

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Camps Bay Sophie Siessmeier Greenpop intern Cape Town South Africa Environmental

A day in the life of a Greenpop Urban Greening intern

Something I’ve found really awesome about working at Greenpop is that no day is like the other! Working at an NGO definitely requires a lot of spontaneity, adaptability, and patience, as you have to support the team at lots of different kinds of events. To me, that only speaks for the diversity of this environmental internship!

You are involved in so many different ways while meeting so many different people, that you will not mind spending some days on your computer at the Greenpop office. On other days you will work outside at the Greenpop nursery doing gardening work. And on other days, you may find yourself helping out as a facilitator at plant days in school projects! Occasionally, you will get the chance to attend conferences, talks or maybe even three-day school camps. As you can tell, there is a lot to do and a lot to experience – you will definitely go places!

Read More About Environmental NGO Greenpop in their Partner Profile

Planting Sophie Siessmeier Greenpop intern Cape Town South Africa Environmental    Nursery Sophie Siessmeier Greenpop intern Cape Town South Africa Environmental

The loft

One of the accommodations for Roots Interns is the Cape Town Loft – AKA the best place to make friends from all over the world! At first, I was a bit thrown off at the idea of staying in a 6-bed dorm for half a year… But it ended up being the best decision I could have possibly made.

We had so much fun together: camping at festivals, exploring the city, or going on a road trip to the Cederberg Wilderness Area, 3 hours from Cape Town. I even found a travel buddy to travel to Zanzibar with! So many memories and I could not have done even half of it without my lovely loft mates. As a Roots intern, you definitely don’t have to worry about not meeting new people.

Mural Sophie Siessmeier Greenpop intern Cape Town South Africa Environmental    Mareike Charlotte Laura Sophie Siessmeier Greenpop intern Cape Town South Africa Environmental

About the experience

Going abroad for half a year, living with some of the coolest people, making so many new friends and experiencing memorable things every single day in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, made me grow a lot. I was able to make the most out of my time – you also get plenty of free time as a Greenpop intern! – benefiting on so many levels and learning from it.

I was able to engage in a project aiming to reconnect people to the environment. I physically got active and not anxious about climate change. The best thing, however, is that although I am going home soon, part of the life that I had here will stay. Having made a lot of international and South African friends gives me the opportunity to meet them in other parts of the world. Or we could meet again in Cape Town, as I know that I will always be welcome here!

I would 100% recommend you to apply for a Roots internship! If you get a chance – just do it! I promise you will have the best time. Even if an environmental internship is not for you, you will be able to find an interesting one as Roots provides many different interning and volunteering opportunities in Africa. Be prepared for only fun times!

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