Dylan: Four months ago, I was sitting in the office of my South African history professor in the States, reading the names of the books on his shelf, waiting for him to arrive for my interview. I was applying for a program to work and study in Cape Town for two months over our summer break. Four minutes ago, I was sitting in an office at FunDza in Muizenberg, reading the names of the stories I would edit for the day, contemplating what to write for my final blogpost with my fellow American intern, Ryan. With our last week in Cape Town and our final blog post, Ryan and I would like to share a bit about FunDza with you. We’d like to tell you about the things you experience working here (Ryan’s portion primarily) and the things you learn through it all (my portion primarily).
Ryan: My time at FunDza has been an interesting one to say the least. The job that I was asked to do during this time was interesting: reading through the pieces sent in by young people throughout South Africa, countless essays, stories, and poems that prepared me to grade papers as a future History teacher. I thought each one that I read was unique in its own special way. They each had a fairly different subject matter but they followed a similar thread. I honestly love that people wrote about what was bothering them, and their opinions. This is because it is something that I like to do, so it was something I could relate with. I also appreciate people’s authenticity in the stories that I have read. I think these are the ones that stood out to me the most. FunDza also allowed me to show my own creativity. Writing stories and blog posts gave me a chance to write something that means something important to me. It was soothing to write these things.
Dylan: Encountering such powerful and honest pieces gives a real sense of purpose to the job. FunDza teaches you very quickly to care about what you’re doing. Taped on the wall right in front of my desk, there are quotes from FunDza readers: “I love the great work done by fundza,” “I have read so many stories but this one really changed my life…” When we edit someone’s work or leave feedback on a piece submitted by a young author, you always have to remember that it may be one in a long line of stories to edit, but to the person who wrote it, it’s the one that matters the most, and you have to give that person the effort they deserve. FunDza doesn’t let you forget that. In meetings, in conversation, in quotes on the wall, you can never forget why you work, and this is a valuable lesson to learn, to remember why you put effort forth at each moment. Admittedly, it is easier when you’re reading interesting stories all day.
Ryan: The people here are a unique group, and they blend well together. The office space that I was in was fantastic. It was interesting how things changed each day. Whether it was playing trivia or having a debate about some topic, each one was different but fun. I talked about American culture and was told about South African culture. I thought it was fascinating to learn the differences and similarities. It was more impactful because the message was being delivered by people who live here and I’m not just hearing it from someone. It gives me a chance to discuss these differences back home with my friends and family. It definitely is an environment that’s designed to promote creativity, and it’s something that I love and will miss. I came here at an interesting time. One of the first meetings I was at when I came here, FunDza was trying to write their own story. Now I have a much clearer understanding of their story and their goals as organization.
Dylan: FunDza organizes thoroughly. They lay out specific goals, time frames, and routes of achievement. We’ve spent hours at several meetings as FunDza restructured its methods and aims to encourage reading for pleasure with the most outreach and efficiency. We’ve visited schools and literary events to watch and help with their implementation of these goals. This kind of development is something I have been trying to do in my personal life. It’s a great way to achieve the things you want to and FunDza illustrates that on a large scale. They have a big goal: to improve literacy among and to empower South African youth. It’s helped me a lot to see a well-functioning group working for something good and achieve through planning, goal setting, and organizing. This kind of preparation and over-arching view is something that I recommend for anyone working on a goal. It certainly helps me, and FunDza has definitely shown the success it can bring.
Ryan: The organization is doing something that is commendable. I think my job here not only helped me prepare for my future job, but I think I did some good in helping people write in English and understand English. I have learned so much about South Africa and this organization. I will be able to leave South Africa much more prepared for my future career. I will also leave with some beautiful images in my mind because of the beautiful scenery I got to see. But most importantly, I will leave knowing that I think I have done something good.