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Inside the Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia as an Intern

Sabina Schneider is a recently finished intern at the Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia. She hails from Ingolstadt in Germany, and has just completed a B.A. in Communication Studies in Salzburg Austria.

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Namibia was never really on the top of my bucketlist. Especially not to do an internship there and certainly not for a political institution. Then one fell into place with the other and I was suddenly in front of the gate of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Windhoek.

I already made the decision to go to Namibia to do an internship by Christmas 2014. At that time I thought back and forth for a long time. I hesitated a bit. I had many doubts whether Namibia was really the right country for me, but after much deliberation I decided to go for it.

The Internship Application

Sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone to  discover new things. As hard as the first step is, the beautiful experiences that follow make it worthwhile. Experience starts when you go beyond your fears.

I began to find out who was offering internships and which ones would potentially suit me. After a few applications I received an answer from the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Windhoek. After a Skype call I got the positive answer: In April and May 2016 I would do an internship in Namibia. Now I had enough time to take care of my temporary study permit.

Or so I thought. In fact, it needed four months  until I received confirmation from the Namibian Ministery of Home Affairs that they would be willing to provide me with a visa.  Until I received the visa, I had to wait in a queue of people outside the  Ministry for a few hours. In Namibia you must be patient, because the bureaucratic mill grind there is a little bit slower and unplanned as compared to that of Germany. After several visits to the Ministry of Home Affairs and waiting in front of it, I finally received my temporary study permit.

The Internship

So, I was waiting at the gate of the Hanns Seidel Foundation not knowing what to expect. From day one I was able to work independently, and learned a lot about the situation in the country by writing background reports. I was involved in various projects and took very positive experiences from the internship. Because I study ‘something with media’, I could also use my knowledge in this field as a media educator and consultant of the Civics Academy, an online education platform the Hanns Seidel Foundation is utilising. I was also able to expand my horizons in this area.

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The Hanns Seidel Foundation gave me the opportunity to look behind what’s happening in Namibia. Through conferences I learnt a lot about the opinion of the citizens in Namibia and I could see what is important for the youth. Being part of the team meant a lot to me, especially when I had questions about the situation in the country or about their politics. They showed me how important politics is for young people and how important it is to teach them about their rights. To work in this team was a pleasure for me and I really enjoyed being a part of it. I highly recommend an internship at the Hanns Seidel Foundation, especially if you are studying politics (or similar studies) or if you are interesed in an intercultural exchange. As already mentioned above, I wrote background reports for the HSF Head Office in Germany which described the current situation in Namibia.

Exploring Namibia

This wasn’t my only contribution or experience, as I got to take part in various travelling around the country. I got to know the country. Namibia is almost two and a half times larger than Germany and has plenty to offer: there is the lush north of the Zambezi Region, the Etosha National Park, coastal cities, the Kalahari and Namib deserts and the rough south. Namibia is a country which has always something new to offer and will always be a reason for me to return once again.

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Thanks to my holidays and various public holidays, I could visit  the coastal towns of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz, sweating in the Namib desert, looking for animals in the Chobe National Park in Botswana, marvel at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and also the second largest canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon.

New Perspectives

I recommend an internship abroad because you can surpass yourself, and it also changed my views on various things and it can break down prejudices. In my case, I have incorporated myself into topics that are less discussed in the course of study, such as politics. Also in terms of history I learned a lot as Namibia was a German colony, which later came under South African rule and gained independent in 1990.

Through other interns I met, I also got an insight into their areas, such as the cooperation of the GIZ or the radio station of the NBC. These are also an important part of an internship abroad: not only cross-cultural exchange, but also the exchange with your ‘own people ‘ and your own culture.

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