KateWe’re delighted to welcome two new volunteers from the University of Kentucky who will be with us until June… let’s introduce the fabulous Annie and Kate!


Tell us a little about yourself?

ANNIE: My name is Annie Martyn and I am 20 years old. I will be interning with FunDza until June 2018. I am from Ohio, USA, but I go to school at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, with a double major in Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies, and with a minor in English. After my undergrad, I hope to go to graduate school and get a master’s degree in Social Work.

KATE: I’m from Lexington, Kentucky. I’m soon to be 21 years old and I’m studying English with a Creative Writing option added on. I also have a double minor in Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies and Professional and Technical Writing.

What do you hope to achieve during your time here?

ANNIE: While I am here at FunDza and UWC, I hope that I can broaden my horizons personally, academically and professionally. This is my first time traveling outside of the US without my family, so I am being forced to step outside of my comfort zone and put in a lot of effort to create new relationships, experience the culture, and learn new things. While at UWC, I am taking classes that are very ‘Africa-oriented’ and that is allowing me to become more aware of the diverse culture, history, and people of South Africa in a way that I could never do at university back home. FunDza is allowing me to gain a better understanding of how NGOs are operated and run, and to learn about the work they can do for their communities. I hope that I will be able to strengthen my interpersonal skills and cultivate a more tolerant and diverse understanding of empathy through working with the other interns and employees, and through reading the work that fans submit to be published online. I really feel like I will learn a lot about the people of South Africa through the stories they tell.

KATE: I’m really interested in the mechanics of what goes into making a nonprofit work, like what the different jobs within a nonprofit do and how that all fits together into an efficient and manageable business. I’m mostly interested in grant writing. I want to learn how to write a grant: what goes into it, the format, how to find the right grants to apply for, that kind of thing.

How have you found Cape Town to be?

ANNIE: I tried to come into Cape Town very open-minded and without any strong, preconceived notions of what it would be like. I had never even stepped foot on the entire continent of Africa before coming to Cape Town, so I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. So far, though, it has been wonderful! This city is beautiful, and there is so much diversity in the landscape, as there are mountains on one side of you and the ocean on the other. It is unlike anything I have seen before, as usually in America, you can have mountain, or the ocean, or neither (like Ohio). Everyone has been super nice and welcoming, and I feel like I will really grow to love this city even more than I do right now.

KATE: I wasn’t expecting the city to be as big as it is! I was expecting a lot of development, but the sprawl is definitely bigger than I imagined in terms of the surrounding areas outside of the city centre itself.

How has your internship been at FunDza so far?

ANNIE: FunDza has been the best internship I have ever experienced. Previously at the University of Kentucky, I interned at the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research and the National Alliance of Mental Illness. While these were both valuable experiences, I got stuck doing a lot stereotypical intern work, like uploading data or sorting supplies or taking inventory. This experience is so different than that because I feel like I am on a more level playing field with the people I am working with and less like I am just an intern that will do stuff for them. I feel like FunDza will allow me to take more ownership of the work I am going and it will let me utilize many of my skills in a more practical manner.

Before being placed at FunDza, I was actually looking at interning at a different NGO in Cape Town that was more similar to my long term career goals (I want to work with people who have experienced sexual- and gender-based violence) but it ended up working out that I would be doing my internship here, and I am very grateful that that happened! I really love how devoted and committed everyone here is to the mission to promote literacy and writing in young people. Even though it is a bit different than what I may want to do long-term, I know that FunDza’s commitment and advocacy for the community will help me in the future. Coming from a small town where everyone is educated and literate, I wasn’t really aware of how much of a blessing it is to know how to communicate clearly and effectively with those around me. Through reading fans’ writing and learning about people through their stories, I have a much better understanding of how blessed I am and how important it is to help those around me with such an integral skill.

KATE: FunDza is a lot bigger than the other nonprofit I interned for (it was a literary arts journal), with more staff and other interns than I was expecting. I really love it here; a lot of internships in the US really work the interns for all they’ve got because it’s unpaid labor, but here I really feel like I have the time to pay attention to detail and take my time, as well as take breaks, because I don’t feel overwhelmed by work or that there’s all this pressure for me to work as quickly as possible. I feel like I can give a higher quality of work. It seems like FunDza is not just about getting more young people to read, it’s also about inspiring them to tell their stories and getting them to realize that what they have to say is important. Instead of focusing on reading as a way to get a job or something, it seems like they want to foster a passion for reading and writing that’s about more than just what to do with it (though giving young authors exposure to a public audience will also certainly help with that).

People should be proud of their stories and their lives and should be able to see their experiences reflected in the things they read. Representation matters, and it seems like FunDza is working hard to get representation for a diverse population of young South Africans!