So Mtuseni submits his application this week for an internship with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). It’s a big one. SABC is sort of like the BBC, running major media outlets around the country. Mtuseni will have the chance to intern at one of several big radio stations in Gauteng, the province of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
SABC figured highly in my frustration with Mtuseni and South Africa late last year. In addition to bailing on half-completed applications to two other intern programs, he completely missed the SABC deadline. When I looked at the SABC website in early December, the application deadline had already passed. And in true South Africa style, the information and process were totally unclear — aside from the December cutoff date. His college didn’t alert him to the date; the SABC didn’t fully promote or explain the process. This half- communication is par for the course in South Africa, and I’ve wrestled with it for four years. It gives me new-found appreciation for the efficiency and clarity of US culture.
Mtuseni has finished all his classes, but needs 100 hours of radio internship to graduate in April. (Or maybe now June. Or July. Things at his school can be so vague it makes me crazy. Except, of course, when tuition was due.) So his missing the application periods for several big intern programs was a big deal. Fear, procrastination, self-doubt, rebellion — we’re not sure what the reason was. But after I hired his former school administrator for a coaching session, and both lectured and then pulled back the pressure on him, he seemed to regroup.
And then a couple weeks ago he told me he was applying to SABC. Confused, I went on the website, and lo and behold there was new information and a new deadline: January 28. Perhaps someone there smartened up, or people complained, and SABC decided to actually walk the talk of providing clear communication.
So Mtuseni is taking advantage of this reprieve and swears he’s going to get this internship. Being at an SABC station would be a feather in his cap; they have more prestige than a small community radio station. So of course the process is very competitive.
It’s also a very long program. Although Mtuseni only needs 100 hours, the SABC intern program is essentially full-time from March through November. And it pays a weekly salary — not a lot by any means, but it would be steady income for Mtuseni.
Of course I’d love him to get in. But the timeframe means he wouldn’t be able to visit the US this summer. Despite the rough patches we had on his trip here last year, I still want him back. It’s really hard seeing him so infrequently. We both had our bouts of culture shock on our respective trips, and I know his second visit here won’t be so overwhelming. And if he doesn’t get some kind of internship, I’m thinking about ways he might be able to squeeze in 100 hours of radio time here.
But for now — we’re rolling the dice on SABC. The program begins March 1. Fingers crossed. Send good energy his way…
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