Meet Intern and Scholarship Winner Sally Amkoa
By Steven Levy
2012 Connect-123 Scholarship recipient Sally Amkoa is headed to Cape Town for an Economic Development internship this month.
After spending three months in Costa Rica and 3 days in Panama early this year, I thought I could simply check studying abroad off my bucket list and move on to better things. However, I fell in love with the experience of meeting new people, learning a different language and having to adapt to new ways of life. I had to travel abroad again.
I’ve probably told a million people about my upcoming internship in Cape Town, South Africa; it’s one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve ever had in my life. But most people ask why I didn’t I choose to go to Latin America, Europe or Asia instead, since I’m from Africa. Well, even though I’m from Kenya, I’ve never had the opportunity to visit any other African country. I’m only slightly familiar with the cultures and experiences of the countries neighboring Kenya like Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Rwanda because I interacted with immigrants from these countries in my neighborhood growing up. I know as much about South Africa as anyone who studied the freedom movement in the country, was inspired by the unity that Nelson Mandela symbolized, or followed the 2010 world cup games religiously just because they were being held in Africa!
I’m excited to experience the similarities and differences between the cultures of South Africa and the other countries I’ve visited. I recently took a leadership training course on racial justice at my school, the University of Cincinnati, and thought it would be interesting to compare life in a multi-racial setting in South Africa and the in USA. I’m also very eager to intern with the Parliamentary Monitoring Group and develop my professional skills in economic policy development. The internship description couldn’t be more aligned with my professional goals and interests. I am looking forward to building a professional network in South Africa; a network that will grow even stronger as I advance in my career in Economics.
All of my friends who have been to Cape Town continually sing praises about its beauty. I can’t wait to finally see it for myself and do all the touristy things that my friends say I “have to do while in Cape Town,” like riding ostriches and drinking tea on the mountainside! I hope that even with a busy work schedule, I’ll still be able to interact with the local community and travel around the country in order to completely immerse myself in the South African culture. I’m going to South Africa with an open mind. My expectation is to grow as an individual by challenging myself to think beyond my upbringing, education and mindset in order to understand and respect difference, and to develop my own authentic value system.
Stay tuned for more updates from Sally throughout her stay in Cape Town!