ICSC Internships | Neil's storyby Jenny Shippen
Since 2021, The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC) has offered internships to Newcastle University students as part of its efforts to bridge the gap between past and present human rights challenges.
The organisation helps to preserve the memories of historic sites and memorials around the world in order to educate future generations on the reality of past atrocities.
We caught up with Newcastle student Neil to ask about his experiences of his internship in South Africa.
Top tips for internships
As a young boy growing up in the Caribbean, it was always a dream to go to South Africa. So, when I saw the opportunity to travel to Johannesburg as part of the ICSC internship, I quickly jumped at the opportunity. Surprisingly, the application process was quite simple and straightforward, and thankfully I was successful.
It can be quite nerve-racking travelling to a new country, new culture, and new region that is totally different from anything you have ever experienced. This was exactly my initial feeling. However, when I overcame these feelings of nervousness I was on my way to having the best internship possible. At Constitution Hill, I had the privilege of working with, and learning from, a dynamic and diverse staff all focused on the development of South Africans.
Due to the diverse nature of the organisation I had the privilege of working on several tasks focusing on youth development, museum exhibitions, and even cultural development. It was undoubtedly an amazing experience and one that I will cherish forever. However, I was only able to enjoy this amazing experience after taking a few steps.
Here are a few tips about completing an internship.
Do your homework
This may sound like a cliché, but ensure you research the area you are staying. Find out about the language, transportation, currency, and even things like the weather or climate.
I found this out the hard way. Poor me went to Johannesburg from Newcastle in my July summer mood and clothing only to find it was actually winter in South Africa. In fact, it even snowed in Johannesburg for the first time in almost 10 years while I was there – talk about bad luck!
A good way to learn about the area and country is to ask someone who may have been on an internship there before. They can inform you of many tips that you may never see on a travel site, and help prepare you for this amazing experience.
Come out of your shell
This is very important and may in fact be the difference between an amazing internship and an okay one.
In the initial stage of my internship, I kept very much to myself and was quite shy to talk to anyone. Faith had it that I was forced into another office and hence had to engage much more with the staff. This almost instantly made my internship twice as good. My new workmates were so excited to take me out and show me around the city. They told me all the good places to go for local deals and enjoyment, allowing me to have a truly authentic and amazing South African experience.
You only have a limited time to see amazing new places, so whenever you get a chance, plan different adventures on your own or with some new friends.
At every opportunity you get, leave your accommodation and go and experience your new temporary home - safely, of course. Once again, be sure to discuss with the local people to get the best deals and find out which places are really worth experiencing. That is exactly what I did, and what an amazing experience I had!
This experience was undoubtedly the highlight of my course. Newcastle University did a great job of providing practical opportunities for the theory I had been studying all year and for this I am deeply grateful. I would encourage students to definitely make the most of these opportunities. Trust me – you'll be glad you did.
I wish you an amazing internship experience!
We hope you found Neil’s blog useful. For more information about our ICSC internships, visit the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience website or browse our 2022/23 ICSC brochure (2023/24 brochure pending). You can also read a selection of testimonials from past ICSC interns.
Published By Jenny Shippen on 01/11/2023 | Last Updated 29/11/2023