I started my first week of my study abroad theatre internship in Johannesburg, South Africa, and it has been a great learning experience. As a first-generation college student and having grown up in a rough environment, I was feeling homesick and nervous as I got ready for my departure. This was all so new to me, and it was also my first time ever being on an airplane! It was not the opportunity itself that I was afraid of- it was the culture shock and the environment. People often perpetuate misconceptions and place ideas in your mind that make you think that “Africa” is a scary place, and that you should always be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Its true that you should be aware, but Africa is so much more than these conceptions. It is not just home of the motherland, it is the home of the determined, resilient and the extremely talented.
With welcoming arms and delicious food, Africa has been incredible so far! As soon as I arrived I was buried in gifts and “hallos”. Everyone is so happy to meet someone from America, and so interested in learning more about me and where I come from. It amazes me how often people say they would kill to come to America and live better lives. Its in these moments that I realize how grateful I am for everything I have in the United States. We often complain or worry about having a high paying job when the people here in Africa are struggling just to make ends meet to feed their families. I can not stress enough how grateful I am to be a US citizen with endless opportunities.
Its only week 1 of my internship, and I have learned so much! With hopes of opening my own theatre in the near future, this first week has taught me lessons in professionalism. As a 20 year-old woman from a small town, the opportunity to work with people of different ethnicities is something totally new to me. I already feel like I am working in the theatre industry- we have such a productive schedule! We work from 8 am until 7 pm at the University of Johannesburg. It is so amazing ! Never would I ever have thought I’d be learning about the theatre in another part of the world. It isn’t just theatre to my colleagues, its LIFE. Theatre plays a huge role in South African culture. It’s not just about being an actor- it all starts from the storytelling, the dances, celebrations, and weddings. This is their passion, what keeps them wanting better for themselves and their younger siblings. At this internship, I am learning everything from administration and marketing to stage managing. What I’ve really enjoyed the most so far would have to be assisting the performing arts director by organizing meetings, helping with auditions, assisting in rehearsals, and costuming. The stage here is amazing and it makes me feel as if I am in Hollywood.