Name: Melanie De Vincentiis
School: Northwestern University
Internship year: 2020
The FSD Jinja Virtual Internship Program was an excellent learning experience in the field of international sustainable development. The community was very welcoming and excited to share their knowledge and cultural perspectives with me, there were so many smiles and laughs that we shared, as they danced for me and I stumbled over basic Luganda words for them.
The internship motivated me to constantly evaluate how my work was serving the community’s needs according to their perspective, and not my own; it also motivated me to make sure I was creating systems that could be easily carried on by the community or by my host organization after I left. The internship grounded my academic work in development in personal experience and helped me understand the complexities of real-world operations, which cannot be easily understood by reading books.
This internship has taught me a lot about communication in a virtual, international environment, especially across time zones. I have also learned to embrace a different work-culture, shaped by different life values, and think and work according to that culture and those values, and I hope this adaptability will help me in my future career endeavors in international settings.