Students spend summer interning in South Africa

Mercer+Sophomore+Brianna+Levin+during+her+summer+internship+at+a+local+library+in+Cape+Town%2C+South+Africa.

Image: Brianna Levin

Mercer Sophomore Brianna Levin during her summer internship at a local library in Cape Town, South Africa.

Laurel Huster, Staff Writer

This past summer, fourteen students had the opportunity to spend the summer in Cape Town, South Africa interning at different organizations.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that has shown me how important it is to treat people like people and not [like they are] inferior because of their lack of education or wealth,” said senior Halie Zastre.  

Professor Eimad Houry, chair of International and Global Studies and the director of the South Africa internship program said that the summer internship program grew out of relationships that were built on different Mercer on Mission trips to Cape Town.

The internship program has sent students to Cape Town for three consecutive summers.

“We realized that we could create a more sustainable relationship with some of our partner organizations if we could recruit Mercer students to go and work during periods that aren’t related to Mercer on Mission,” Houry said.

Brianna Levin
View of the township of Khayelitsha, located near Cape Town, South Africa, where Mercer Sophomore Brianna Levin spent most of her summer.

The South Africa internships are the only internships Mercer offers that are international.

Typically, students who are selected to have an internship in Cape Town will stay in the country for about eight to ten weeks.

“Two months is an opportunity for the student to get to know the culture to get to know the work climate in the country, and learn a lot more about the country as a result of the extended time experience,” Houry said.

All of the internships that are offered are with non-profit organizations. They cover a wide range of interests such as HIV/AIDS education, clinics, schools, human rights organizations, children’s rights organizations, environmental organizations and also small business support organizations.

“We are offering internships for people who are interested in making a change in social conditions and also in the lives of other people they come in contact with,” Houry said.

Brianna Levin
View of Cape Town, South Africa from Table Mountain.

A wide range of students in different majors have participated in the trip including computer science, journalism, international affairs, political science, business and education students.

“For nine weeks I resided in Cape Town South Africa and worked at the Khayelitsha Site B Clinic. During my internship, I learned more than I ever imagined from the doctors, nurses, and midwives in the clinic. We observed and even assisted with the procedures that took place in the clinic daily,” said senior Oge Onuh.

Houry said he is looking to add two more types of internships to interest a broader range of students for summer 2018. He is looking to include internships for business students that would work at for-profit corporations.

Houry said he wants to include internships for those who are interested in the more administrative side of healthcare. He is also looking at organizations that promote health access and equality.

Jen Andrews
Township by Johannesburg, South Africa.

Currently, the program is accepting applications for the summer and spring of 2018. Students can apply through the Office of International Programs and the website they use for applications, mercer.terradotta.com.

Students who apply and are accepted to the program are guaranteed an internship placement, Houry said.