By Nora Janssen
I am Nora Janssen, a student from Belgium. Through CASO I had the opportunity to do my internship in South Africa. During my time participating in the CASO project I had the chance to work with many different people. I was working in the Patient Partner Programme, where we worked in a team of patient partners and students. It was me and another art and culture mediation student, one physio therapy student, one nursing student, and three patient partners. Together we worked on a project and I have learned that having this variety in a team is an absolute plus!
We could all put our own perspectives into the project and we learned much from one another. It was an interdisciplinary team but also an intercultural team. Two Belgian students, two Dutch students and three South African experts by experience. In a project like this, you learn to work with different people from different backgrounds and with varied personalities. This is something important as a professional! In the working field you will most probably also have to deal with many different people.
Through the project I also worked with professionals like Dr Rachel Weiss. Rachel helped us structure the project and guided us in the process. Her knowledge and the passion for the project was very inspirational. Working with people who are teachers or professionals is useful as a student because you learn from them, but you also learn how to work with people who have a different status than yourself. In this project we were really treated like equals and that made it such a nice experience!
In the project we wanted to work in the Langa township. We wanted to include the residents of the township because it is important to engage with them to really understand what their needs and habits are. We also made it a point to work in an empowering way; not to be just another group to come into the township and tell the people what to do. Rather, we met with many residents of this township, and working with them was lovely. The people are so welcoming and warm, they are willing to help and you can learn many life lessons from them.
The biggest thing I took away from working with all these people, is that you can all learn from each other, no matter what job or status you have! So when working together it is important to treat each other as equals. It isn’t always easy to work with others, but it does add so many layers to a project like this!
It was a great learning opportunity and I feel like I am now a better version of myself. Because of this, I can become a better professional.