Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa!
I arrived in Cape Town a little after midnight on May 29th and spent the next two days adjusting to the time zone, unpacking, and exploring the city. On June 1st I began going back through some of the materials CSVR had sent me prior to the internship beginning, and I met with my boss for lunch on June 2nd. Meeting with him in person was the moment that this experience became a reality to me, and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.
Later in the week I had my first meeting with members of the research team. My colleagues here all seem extremely passionate about the work they are doing, and I am excited to spend my time learning from and working alongside them for the duration of the internship. The meeting was a debrief centering around the harsh reality of how physically and mentally difficult it is to constantly delve into traumatic events via research; the continued re-exposure to certain topics and details can take a toll on everyone. It was comforting to enter a work environment where everyone is taking the time to prioritize the health of their colleagues and to preserve a space for a continual conversation regarding some of the most challenging topics CSVR researchers face.
One of the ideas brought up that impacted me during the meeting was that as researchers and individuals in the field, we often operate in worlds we do not inhabit. I think this is something that I will keep central to my work over these ten weeks; I am entering a space that I do not inhabit, and I will be researching topics to which I have varying degrees of personal or academic exposure. Taking the time to acknowledge that distance, privilege, or otherness that I hold in this situation is extremely important.
I look forward to working among such a tremendous group of people at CSVR. The mission of CSVR is to promote sustainable peace at all levels by understanding, preventing, and addressing the effects of violence and inequality. I hope that in my time here I am able to contribute just a small part to this ideal.