Not taking my own advice

I thought I was ready. I had conducted client interviews last week and they were pretty straightforward. This week's interviews would be similar, even though the subject matter was different. Even though I'm still learning the ins and outs of refugee legal work, at the very least I should have known that the related issues are anything but straightforward. And then that even-handedness I knew I needed went out the window when the interviewees start to share their stories. It was impossible for me to not be invested in each of their cases. By the end of Wednesday, me and three other interns had interviewed almost 40 clients who applied to become permanent residents (their refugee status having been recognized by South Africa, they could now seek to have greater rights and privileges should their applications be approved). Almost all of them had special circumstances that we had no idea what to do with, so we met with our supervising attorneys on Friday to review our conversations. It was embarrassing to discover the questions I missed asking and the details I neglected to document as we discussed next steps with the attorneys.

This week also marked the beginning of me doing duty, taking down a potential client's complaints to see if we will be able to help. Once again in debriefing with the attorneys, I realized how even if I think I'm asking probing questions, I still need to fine tune my listening skills, trust my instincts when something doesn't sound quite right and find a way to ask for the same information again, and ask for help in the moment. With both projects, I have had to follow up with several clients to clarify details or give them more information that I didn't have when they were in front of me. 

While it is natural for me to feel like I should have done better, the truth is that I can only learn by doing. With more interviews to come, I now have real experience to know how to better navigate these conversations. Do some of this week's missteps seem obvious in hindsight? Sure, but I am taking this week's lessons learned to do my best to not make the same mistakes next week. Even-handedness, take two.

Food stuff:
  • Sunday brunch at Lola's was fine, but when I overheard the waitress talking about a traditional South African dessert, I was glad I had stayed to keep working at my counter seat. Bread and Butter Pudding is basically slices of cinnamon raisin bread warmed and resting in a vanilla cream sauce and worth the mid-day nap that's sure to follow. 
    Bread and Butter
  • Tuesday had a one-two punch as I first stopped at the Cape Town Legal Practitioners Association networking event at The Botanical Bar, which has an interesting menu of bitters or shrubs combinations to which you can add gin or whiskey. I also had the opportunity to try seared springbok (antelope)(it's good).
    Following, I met up with our ever-expanding intern universe as students working at other agencies are arriving in Cape Town. I recommended dinner at The Commissary. Small plates but trust you'll get full in a graffiti-decorated setting with very nice servers. Best meal in Cape Town so far.
  • I repeated Friday-night happy hour on the rooftop of Cloud 9 to show another intern the panoramic view of a Cape Town sunset. Last Friday, I shared a plate of the best calamari I ever had in my life. This Friday, the jalapaño poppers that my drinking partner ordered were so massive - they give you the entire pepper stuffed full of very spicy filling, breaded, fried and served atop a mound of much-needed cream cheese to cool your mouth off - she let me have half of her order, to my delight. Come for the view and food, but maybe stick to wine as I've yet to find a cocktail that knocked my socks off. 
    Lion's Head