Stories and experiences of an intern

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Team building and self-reflection

I have been in Nairobi for three weeks now and I feel more like home every day. This week I rode a camel for the first time, made my first ugali and finally joined dancing with the kids. Lots of things to be happy about.

On Wednesday we had a whole day of team building and we went to the Kitengela Hot Glass Studio. There we had lunch, explored the premises, enjoyed the beautiful views and tried not to think about work. We discovered the beautiful glass items they make there and of course had fun taking photos of each other. An unexpected fun was riding the camel named Ramadan.

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In the afternoon we sat down and did some team building exercises to help us get to know each other better. I have always been quite bad at analysing myself and my positive and negative features, so it was a good exercise for me. We were writing down words to describe ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses, and also writing positive and constructive things about each other. It was a nice way for me to get to know my colleagues a little better and find more about their interests.

In my life skills class on Thursday we continued with the theme of confidence, this time talking about how to boost your confidence through positive self-talk. Someone once told me, that you should always talk to yourself like you would talk to a dear friend. Never judge, never beat yourself up, but to be kind, motivating and realistic. If you fail, you tell yourself it is okay, and you encourage yourself to try again. Too many of us criticise and punish ourselves for failures and mistakes, which is something we would never do to our best friends. For this reason, it is extremely important to have a positive inner voice. Also, our brain is very good at learning new things and the danger of having a lot of negative self-talk is, that your brain will start believing in it and this affects your confidence and self-esteem in a negative way.

The teambuilding exercises and my class about positive self-talk really made me ponder on my qualities as a person, as a university student and as an intern. I have always been very critical and a bit of a perfectionist, which I see as both a strength and a weakness. My perfectionism helps me go beyond “good enough” and I honestly enjoy fixing every little mistake weather it comes to writing academic papers or drawing Disney princesses for the kids at Wale. However, it also makes me beat myself up for not being perfect and for making mistakes, which is just highly unnecessary. I was amazed about how quickly Venna caught this quality in me in just two weeks. When we were writing each other’s blind spots (the things we might not have noticed about ourselves) she noted that my perfectionism makes me dread of making mistakes and it can prevent me from discovering things about myself and the world. I agree completely.

So, motivated by the theme of seeing the positive in yourself, but also accepting your imperfections and being kind to yourself, I decided to be less of a perfectionist, less scared of making mistakes and to have the courage to challenge myself every day even though it might scare me. Maybe I will end up making a fool out of myself every once in a while, but I hope it will serve as a positive example to all the kids who might be growing up to be the same kind of perfectionists I am today. After thinking about my internship and my contribution to Wale, I became to the conclusion that by accepting my flaws and becoming more comfortable with the risk of failure, I will be able to give so much more for the organisation and for the kids.

The moment that definitely made my week was last Saturday when I got to dance with the kids, finally! One of the reasons I applied for my internship at Wale was the dance. Dance has always been a part of my life and it has always been a way to express any feeling I was going through. No matter how sad, angry or tired I was, I very rarely missed my dance practice. It brings me so much joy to watch the kids at Wale dance, enjoy the music and expressing themselves. I miss that feeling when you forget everything else and just let the beats take you. I am incredibly impressed by how talented young dancers Sarah, Boni and George are, since the choreography I was learning on Saturday was made by them. I hope they never lose the creativity and passion they have now. And I most certainly hope some time during these five months, I get to share some of my dancing with the youth.

Three weeks down and Nairobi is still treating me incredibly well. Excited to see what my fourth week will bring along!

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