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Throughout the past few weeks, I have been focused on my internship placement with Fugee Assist where I am compiling various resources for refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa into a mobile app. The country currently lacks a singular database where people can go to quickly find the services they need, and the app aims to increase accessibility and ease the burden of not knowing where to seek help. Throughout this process, I’ve realized just how difficult the search is, as I am having to scour the depths of the internet to find helpful resources to add to our database. While I am not directly interacting with our community partners, I hope that the work I am doing is impactful and is able to make the refugee/asylum seeking process just a tad bit more bearable.

Aside from my daily internship duties, this past week has been very fun and engaging due to various activities we’ve participated in as a Duke Engage cohort. On Friday, we had a South African snack tasting session where we sat and watched commercials ranging in different time periods. It was actually a very fun bonding activity because we all tasted snacks we’ve never heard of before and discussed our reactions to the food and the content of the commercials. It was really interesting to make connections from what we’ve learned about the apartheid regime to the commercials and have a deeper understanding of how race and class played into the digital era of South Africa.

On Saturday, we had a cooking lesson with a South African chef and were able to cook some very yummy cultural dishes. We made savory rice, chicken stew, and a bean dish called chakalaka. It was quite the learning experience, as following instructions on Zoom proved to be very challenging. However, my dishes turned out very delicious, and I was able to share them with my family. It proved to be a very rewarding experience because I was able to engage with my cohort outside of a traditional class setting and also learn about the daily cuisines of South Africans.

Overall, I had a great experience this past week and feel even more connected with South African culture. Although I can’t be there physically, it has been very cool to still be able to get an immersive experience through Zoom! Most importantly, my family has been asking me many questions about the program and the culture, so it has been rewarding to teach them the things I have been learning.