Reflections from a Forge Intern
Kendra Slagter, one of our 2019-20 Forge interns, shared some reflections on the internship as it draws to a close at the end of February.
“I’ve worked at several international NGOs in the past, and though while many of these organizations were doing good work, I recognized a lot of harm that was being done due to their presence in these communities. I struggled for a few years in believing that international work could be done well and effectively without perpetuating systems of oppression and colonization. It wasn’t until I was recommended to apply for the Forge Internship that I felt comfortable stepping back into the international setting. This internship truly showed me that international development can be done well through the partnership with local leaders. It is possible to add velocity to current initiatives and to hear/respect the leadership of local leaders without forcing our own Western influences onto their culture! I’ve been encouraged by my time at iTeams and now feel confident stepping back into the realm of international development.
My favourite moment throughout this whole internship was when we conducted research with the children from grades 1-5 at Shangilia. During the week leading up to interviews, we hosted several game nights with the kids. This allowed the kids to become comfortable and familiar with us prior to diving into interviews that were a little more intense. During an interview with a 7 year old boy, we asked him ‘How are you feeling today?’ He responded with ‘Very happy’ on his worksheet. When I followed up with him to find out why he was feeling very happy at that moment, he told me, ‘It is because you are here with me today. You care enough about me to know my opinions.’ I will never forget that moment! To give the child the chance to have a voice is a very powerful thing! It reminded me of how critical it is to do international development from a place of empowerment and sustainability.”