Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Christopher Van Hise

My Davis Fellowship: This summer I interned at the Cape Town Refugee Centre (CTRC). CTRC is a humanitarian NGO that assists refugees and asylum seekers in the Western Cape province in South Africa. The center helps refugees and asylum seekers get settled, establish roots, and become self-sufficient in the local community, as they struggle to make new lives for themselves, while retaining their cultural and personal identity.

Take care: As an intern, I conducted interviews with new clients, followed up through home-visits, and evaluated each case. I consulted with one of my superiors to determine the best way to assist our clients. After a few weeks, most of the decisions were left to me. It was certainly a great amount of responsibility, as I was to choose who would receive rental assistance, food stamps, educational help, or entrance into a skills training or entrepreneurship program. This challenging work exposed me to the living circumstances and troubles of displaced peoples, giving me greater insight into their source and nature of their problems.  It also enabled me to pursue my interest in humanitarian work.

Cultural immersion: I also managed to properly immerse myself in the local culture and lifestyle. Cape Town has so much to offer! Without going more than a few kilometers out of the city I was able to climb three mountains, skydive, and visit a penguin colony.

A memorable opportunity: My Davis Fellowship was key in enabling this whole internship experience for me. It has allowed me to grow personally and professionally in a way that cannot be matched in the classroom. I also think it is a perfect example of how Wheaton sticks to its mission of transformative education and that’s very important to me.