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Blog: Federico Elizondo ’17 Interns at Africa Unite

By Contributing Writer on December 8, 2015
Federico Elizondo '17 researched xenophobia in Cape Town, South Africa

Federico Elizondo ’17 researched xenophobia in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ubuntu—the word I never knew I knew.

With the help of my Colgate professors, Mark Stern (Educational Studies) and Ryan Solomon (CORE South Africa/ Writing and Rhetoric), and Career Services’ Summer Funding, I was able to intern at Africa Unite. Quite succinctly, Africa Unite is a Non-Governmental Organization in Cape Town, South Africa with the mission of promoting human rights and social cohesion—especially amongst the youth. Without the options and financing that Colgate University provided, I would not have had the opportunity to gain professional skills as well as career insights on social work.

My days at Africa Unite consisted of a myriad of tasks and activities that indirectly taught me what the word Ubuntu actually meant. In writing a 10-page complaint against the South African Police Service, in creating several concept notes on events, in participating as a judge of the Singmakhalipha (Xhosa term for ‘warriors’) talent show, and in co-leading the Human Rights Outreach Programs, my hope in humanity was rekindled, particularly in the youth. While teaching children and natives about Human Rights, “respect” and “dignity,” I soon fell in love with the ideals and values they held. “We would like businessmen in our community, so they may help the poor,” was just one example of the commitment the children in South Africa demonstrated to progressing their community. As a result of my co-workers, our constituents, and the work we were doing, I was able to understand what Ubuntu actually meant without having to refer to the dictionary: “a quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity” (Oxford English Dictionary).

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