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When I was a child, we used to play a game and sing a song that went like this: “Under the bridge, there is a green booger, the first one to speak, will have to eat it.” When I read the instructions to get to the office where I was going to be an intern, I read the phrase “under a bridge” and all I could think of was this game from my childhood.

After putting the wrong address on Uber, I finally arrived at the place where I should be. I did see a bridge, but I could not see anything that looked like an office. The little voice in my head started questioning me. Did I make a poor internship decision? Is this a scam? Does this office really exist? One of my colleagues had gone out for a smoke and saw me wandering around. Are you Sofia? We are waiting for you! And off we went under the bridge. …

Hands on OpenUp

Saturday, 5 am. Yes, you read it well. I signed up to work on a Saturday and start the day at 5 in the morning.

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And it certainly was a good decision. As much as I love spending time at OpenUp’s office because I learn every day from amazing team members, I wanted to go out of the office and see our projects in action. I was eager to see how the projects are being implemented, and how citizens interact with and are impacted by them. …

On my second day interning at OpenUp, I was invited to join Calyn, my co-worker, for a workshop on race and intersectional identity at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR). Little did I know that it would be a crash-course into South African history and complexity or that it would trigger some deep personal reflections.

Background to the workshop

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation was launched in the year 2000, in the wake of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Today, the Institute helps to build fair, inclusive and democratic societies in Africa through carefully selected engagements and interventions.

This workshop was part of the Sustained Dialogues Program, which works to acknowledge, confront and engage — through dialogue — enduring legacies that continue to marginalize, wound and cause injustice. In line with this spirit, the workshop aimed to capacitate facilitators of two of their programs and instill in them the importance of an intersectional approach in their facilitatory approach when tackling issues of race and the elimination of racism in South Africa. …

Sofia Salas Ungar

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