Dear future intern,
In my sixth and final blog, I wanted to take the time to write a letter to you, future CAPI intern, who will be working at the SDC. It took me a long time to figure out how I should go about writing this letter because it is difficult to predict what kind of advice will be helpful to you. Everyone who I’ve spoken to about the SDC who has experienced living there, has experienced the place in a different way. This is what makes it challenging for me to know what I should write to you. It’s each person’s who, what, when, where, and why that will undoubtably shape their experiences in a unique way at the SDC. Who you are, what role you will assume, when you get there, where you come from, and why your interest was peaked by the SDC will be large factors that will determine the experience you’ll have there. What I can do, is offer 3 rules of thumb that, I hope, will give you an idea about the SDC. So, without any further adieu…
#1: Be adaptable
Life at the SDC is vastly different from life in Victoria. At the SDC, you live in a rural setting with a community and culture that are foreign to you. It’s important to recognize that when you will be living at the SDC, you will have to adapt to a new normal. This will likely mean that you will have to shake up your daily routine and navigate through learning about how to communicate and interact in a different culture. This is no small feat. A lot of willpower is needed to do this sometimes. This leads me to my second rule of thumb…
#2: S T R E T C H Y O U R B O U N D A R I E S
Something that I recognized about everyone at the SDC, teachers and students alike, is that when people became willing to push themselves, they found themselves in a more enlightened place. In my experience at the SDC, when I opened myself to a new way of being, I found that I was able to adapt to my new surroundings and thrive in my new community. At the SDC, I’ve created strong bonds with people who will be a part of my life for a very long time. These people have changed me, and altered my perspective about the world in ways that I can not fully articulate with words yet. I am certain that I would’ve missed an incredible opportunity to learn and grow had I not have opened myself up to my new reality.
When my internship began, my conception of community was vastly different from how a Karenni person conceptualized community. What really helped me when I was at the SDC was understanding that it would be enormously beneficial for me to observe and adapt to how the Karenni construct and organize their community. By embracing the community at the SDC, instead of expecting that the community should adapt for me, I was able to foster much more authentic and personal relationships and discover valuable lessons about community that I didn’t understand before. My experience at the SDC has made me completely re-imagine my own notion of community. I don’t think I would’ve been able to engage in this kind of critical reflection had I not adapted.
#3 Patience is a virtue
As a CAPI intern, it is important to have the ability to take a step back, and breathe. Lessons won’t always go according to plan, schedules will not be fixed, and expectations will often be different than what you anticipated. Things will operate in a different way than what you’re used to. This might take some time to adjust to. Trust the process and go with the flow. Don’t try to rush your experience. It will happen at the pace that it’s meant to.
Good luck & best wishes to you, future intern. Soak up every second of this experience. It will be amazing.