DDP former administration intern Samke Sithole shares her experiences as an intern at DDP and her journey to Korea in Asia.
What was the most profound experience whilst interning at DDP?
I started working as an admin intern for Democracy Development Program (DDP) in August 2018. Working at DDP was more than just doing internship, for me, it was a dream true. I remember that I had attended for the first time one of DDP’s forums and I instantly knew that I needed to be a part of them. For me, what stood out then and continues to stand out is the level of professionalism, kindness and overall management the organization has, and to be able to stand and say I have been a part of that still, to this day, amazes me. Doing internship at DDP afforded me a great opportunity to not just work hands on in a professional environment but to also serve different communities in KwaZulu-Natal. I have always wanted a chance to work directly with the local communities hence my background in studying Community and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Being exposed to different kinds of civil societies who work together to facilitate change in South Africa has kept me inspired to continue serving on the ground and has created everlasting friendships.
I could not have done it without the mentorship of Dr. Paul Kariuki, who was open to listening to my story the first day I walked into his office requesting for an opportunity to volunteer. A year later , I was able to save enough funds from my DDP stipend and applied for an opportunity to go and teach English in South Korea. It is more than teaching a foreign language, it is exposing the Korean societies with the outside world and giving them a chance to interact with people who are different from themselves. It is part of community development, strategically designed by the Korean government for the people. I believe that I wouldn’t have been able to properly plan my days and lessons ahead had I not had the practice that I got from working with DDP. I am only flourishing in my current work environment because of the work ethic that was instilled from working tirelessly on DDP end of the year conferences and events.
What do you think are the two most powerful aspects of DDP’s work that made a significant impact on you in understanding active citizenship and your role as a citizen?
One of the most powerful aspects of DDP’s work that has made a significant impact on me in understanding active citizenship will have to be the constant sharing of ideas, information and skills through relevant workshops that DDP offers to civil societies and individual citizens. It was through these networks that I, myself got to learn about DDP back in 2014. It is in spaces like DDP forums and workshops where one gets to hear and understand exactly what people on the ground think about situations that affect their everyday lives in South Africa. As a South African citizen, I am encouraged to always seek a better understanding and solutions from the so called “ordinary people” that we pass everyday.
The support provided by the DDP team to civil societies has also had great impact. I now understand the patience it takes working and supporting civil societies who in turn, support DDP as a whole as well. The importance of relationship building in order to build a strong society. Through working with DDP, I now know the skill of networking and using the right communication in building strong relationships. As a citizen, I am bold and deliberate about what I want and the environment provided by DDP allowed me to express myself openly and it shows everywhere I go.
A message for the DDP team.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. (Winston Churchill)
To all DDP team and partners, thank you for trusting me and giving me an opportunity to serve under your guidance, it has added so much value in my life and the lives of people I work with.
I will always be humbled by the lessons that I’ve learnt in such a short period of time. The endless laughs and personal conversations we had at the reception, coupled with hard work and frustrations has only made me strong and has contributed greatly in my work ethic here in South Korea. In the mist of the endless workload, frustrations and not enough/too much RSVPs, I hope you never underestimate the change you bring to people’s lives. Always wear that smile, it makes so much difference and keep your eye on the ball.