Friday, June 14, 2013

Student Intership Reflection: Drinking Tea at Economic Justice Network - Rikki Watts

I’ve been interning at Economic Justice Network (EJN), an NGO devoted to working for justice on issues of tax equality, food security, climate change, and trade fairness. Through reading the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and talking to some of the people in the office, I’ve learned about some different policies options regarding food security. I’ve also been working with Simon on a workshop with the goal of opening discussion on inequalities in the emerging economies that make up BRICS(AM). I’ve even leaned some about the issues surrounds mining and extractives from Rumbi and Mandla has told me some about the different projects EJN is working on and NGOs get moving.

But, Rumbi taught me the most important thing I’ve learned here—where to get tea. Equally important, I leaned that when you go for tea in Phindi’s office, you don’t just ‘make a cup and then run off, you stay and talk with Phindi’.

Going for a tea break to Phindi’s office is probably the best thing I’ve done here, and not just because rooibos has high levels of antioxidants, phenolic compounds, and flavonoids. I love chatting with Phindi and hearing what is going on in her life. Like last week, she was so nervous. So nervous that she couldn’t sit or think or anything. I asked her why and she told me about her favourite tennis player, her ‘son’, was competing in the finals and she was worried that he wouldn’t make it on. I told her about how in 2011, when the Cardinals were playing in the World Series, they kept letting it get down to their last strike, but were able to come back and win. Her ‘son’ didn’t end up making it, but she says, ‘you just need to regroup and come back stronger’.

Phindi also tells me how important it is to have good friends and people close to your heart. On her birthday she told me how happy she is to have friends calling and wishing her well. ‘I’d rather have a few friends close to my heart than a bunch of people who don’t really care.’

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