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Doing research, learning a lot and enjoying my time in Cape Town

Robert is a Dutch student of International Land and Water Management at Wageningen University. He went to Spain for his minor and was supposed to do an internship for his thesis research next. Unfortunately, this internship got canceled one month in advance. Despite him contacting lots of companies worldwide, he had to change his plans as more than half of them didn’t even get back to him. For half a year he worked while still mailing with different companies. One of them was Roots Interns and we connected him with non-profit organization Greenpop. Even though his Research internship in Cape Town is slightly different from the common internships (ed. he needs to do thesis research), this organization offered him everything he needed. He’s now looking back on his time as a Research Intern in Cape Town.

Road trip to Hogsback for monitoring

Hardly 12 hours after landing in Cape Town, I found myself already road-tripping with 3 other Greenpop colleagues. We were on a 1000-kilometer-trip to Hogsback in the Eastern Cape. This is where the yearly Hogsback Festival of Trees was organized. A festival with music, camping but with the main goal to plant a few thousands of trees! It was the 4th year that this beautiful festival was organized. Over the past three years, thousands of trees had been planted. It was my task to monitor all of these trees and to come up with a report about the current state of the planted trees. And so, I spent three days in the forest. Surrounded by wind, trees, birds and peaceful flowing rivers, I was monitoring young trees.

My thesis research will basically cover the tree planting but in a different way. I will compare Greenpop’s strategy, used for the planting festivals, to a broader vision on successful reforestation projects. During my internship, I have gathered Greenpop’s information. When I get back home I will compare that to other (successful) reforestation projects and finish writing my thesis.

Research intern in Cape town       Robert at OZCF

Intern life in Cape Town

In Cape Town, I stayed at ‘The Loft’, the house where basically all the interns are living. Here, I had a warm welcome in my new family. They taught me everything I needed to know to move around Cape Town. Together we made trips all over Cape Town and its surroundings. I intended to visit all tourist highlights, although the three months were too short to see everything in this diverse country. You can imagine that weekends were the highlight of every week. The whole week was spent thinking about what to do next weekend.

Greenpop offers internships in different academic areas. Check out the opportunities!

Research Intern in Cape Town with a diversity of tasks

Working for the Greenpop team was a very valuable experience. Soon after I returned from Hogsback I joined the Greenpop team for the Rocking The Daisies festival (one of the biggest rock festivals in South Africa). Here, we worked at the green village (hosted by Greenpop) for the weekend. As working in the office can be boring sometimes, Greenpop really tried to make my tasks diverse. Every Tuesday is an open nursery day for all the interns. Here, we all go to the nursery to get our hands dirty and to run the space together. Furthermore, there was the option to help with the planting days around Cape Town. We also helped with monitoring the sites where we planted in the past. So the working-in-the-office weeks were alternated with other activities.

Even when I had to do a few excursions to local farms and factories for my university, Greenpop was able to help. I visited the ProBio factory in Stellenbosch, the vineyards of the Spier wine farm and the Oranjezicht City Farm. This was a nice way to get to know more about organic farming.

I learned…and was treated well

Now, it is all coming to an end. I’m going to miss Cape Town and Greenpop. In the last three months, I could really be part of the Greenpop team. Apart from that, being part of the ‘loft family’ made my Capetonian days unforgettable. I learned a lot about the changes we can make in the world, by how we are living our lives and using the earth’s resources. It’s a bit cliché, but I feel like I have learned about a new culture and learned about myself. I met many new people and went for amazing trips through mind-blowing landscapes. Roots has treated me well.

Contact us if you are looking for a research project as well!

PS. Check out Robert’s video of 3 Months of Cape Town in 4 Minutes (an Epic Adventure)