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From A to Zanzibar: Reflecting on a summer internship abroad

Posted August 26, 2013 in Focus on Students, KLI Around the Globe, News

From A to Zanzibar: Reflecting on a summer internship abroad
Interview with Juetzinia Kazmer ’15
By Annie Jalota ’13

Juetzinia Kazmer '15 FAWE 1Juetzinia Kazmer ’15 was selected for a KLI Partnered Internship for the summer of 2013 with Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), a nonprofit organization that was the recipient of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership recipient in 2008. The Kravis Prize is a $250,000 award directed to one outstanding nonprofit organization each year to support their strong performance and to share each recipients’ best practices with other organizations worldwide. In a short interview, Juetzinia shared her experience with FAWE in Zanzibar, Tanzania with us and explained how her internship helped her grow as a leader.

Q. How did you find out about FAWE, and what made you apply for the internship?

Juetzinia: I found out about Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) through KLI’s Partnered Internship Program. I had heard of FAWE once before, but I did not know anything about them except that they won the Kravis Prize in 2008. After hearing about the Partnered Internship opportunity with FAWE, I looked into the organization and became interested in FAWE’s mission as well as the internship’s focus on developing a monitoring and evaluation tool for their programs. I had spent my previous summer teaching, so for my upcoming summer, I wanted to work for an organization that mixed my passion for education, leadership and my major—mathematics. The internship’s location on the beautiful island of Zanzibar helped make my decision to apply much easier.

Q. What did you expect going into the internship and this experience abroad? How did it differ from your expectations?

Juetzinia: Before I landed, I had very different expectations for what Zanzibar and Africa would be like. Originally, I expected Zanzibar to be more chaotic and difficult to adjust to (which was thankfully not the case). In some ways, I felt like I would stand out like a sore thumb in Zanzibar and would feel like a foreigner, but to my surprise everyone that I met on the island welcomed me warmly and treated me like a local. (Everyone except the merchants, of course, who still wanted to charge me more for goods.) I did a lot of research on the predominantly Muslim culture in Zanzibar prior to arriving, but I still expected to have more of a culture shock while I was in Zanzibar.

I also worried that I would not be able to communicate very well with locals, but it turned out that many people knew some English and were willing to work with me on my terrible Kiswahili. Luckily, my internship supervisor was also my host mother, and she really helped me adjust to the culture in Zanzibar in every way.

As for the internship, I expected to spend much more time in the office, but it turned out that I spent a lot of my time on site visits collecting data and helping lead workshops for FAWE programs in the different districts of Unguja and Pemba. I enjoyed this fieldwork aspect quite a lot!

Q. How has this experience changed you?

Juetzinia: Now that I am back home, I am only starting to uncover exactly how life-changing this experience has been. It’s hard to put my finger on how I have changed, but I do know that being in Zanzibar has really opened my eyes to a new culture and work environment. I had far more limited resources when I was working in Zanzibar, but that pushed me to be more creative as I developed projects, documented information, and communicated with others.

The work environment in Zanzibar is completely different than it is in western nations; unlike here at home, people focus more on cooperative teamwork. This gave me the opportunity to grow, learn, and create with my FAWE Zanzibar team. My experience working in a team-oriented organization has helped me further develop my communication and problem solving skills, which are skills I can now apply back home.

Zanzibar has been the most inspiring experience I have had in my life. I cannot stop thinking about how much FAWE Zanzibar and the individuals I have worked with have helped me grow more than I helped them. FAWE has given me a better understanding of educational issues abroad and has fueled my unstoppable drive to continue pursuing my work in youth education and empowerment. I will remember the faces of the groups of mothers I met in Pemba and the passionate teachers at FAWE Zanzibar’s Center of Excellence forever, and the amazing memories I made will always stay with me. Now, I am inspired to further investigate issues dealing with educational equality and opportunity.

Q. What do you think you can take away from your experience and apply to your remaining time at CMC?

Juetzinia: I hope to bring the insights I have learned working with FAWE Zanzibar to both my academics as well as my extracurricular activities on campus. Being in Zanzibar has opened my eyes to how other cultures live and think, and by living there for two months, I have become more aware of the assumptions and thought process I make as a “westerner.” I have become more open and aware through this experience, and I believe that this will allow me to more deeply engage with CMC’s curriculum and programs on campus. For my extracurricular activities, I hope to use my experience in developing and leading workshops/programs to my work with Latino Student Forum (LSF) and the Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI.) I also want to work with KLI to make sure that we continue providing a partnered internship with FAWE, especially FAWE Zanzibar. This experience was so rewarding, and any CMCer would benefit from this experience.

Editor’s note: Juetzinia Kazmer ’15 is a junior at Claremont McKenna College majoring in Applied Mathematics and Spanish with a Leadership Studies Sequence. Juetzinia has worked with the Kravis Leadership Institute as an Institute Assistant since 2011.