By Matthew Hagopian:
It’s becoming very hard to believe that I will be leaving in roughly one more month. It feels like this internship is just flying by. With that being said, I think I can comfortably say that I’m taking advantage of each and every day that I’m spending here. Work has been very busy lately with the Olympic Day Run & the TFCF Sports Bonanza, but I have still managed to get out and continue exploring Swaziland!
I realize that I am a few weeks late on this…but Happy 150th Canada Day! The employees/volunteers at the Olympafrica Centre and I celebrated the day by hiking Mdzimba; a large mountain in Lobamba, Swaziland. It was a long trip, but well worth it after seeing the view.
Also, just last week I drove down to the Malolotja Game Reserve with Noreen (who is also staying at Cathmar Cottages). We decided to book and take part in the famous Malolotja Canopy Tour, which swings you from a total of 12 platforms in Swaziland’s largest game reserve. I can’t even put into words how great of an experience that was! Check out a few of the photos we took during the tour (when we weren’t worried about dropping our cameras)! I highly recommend this to future interns!
During the weekend of the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of June, we hosted the Olympic Day Run in both the Prince of Wales Stadium in Mbabane (Friday & Saturday), and then the Olympafrica Centre in Lobamba (Sunday). During this event, we gathered hundreds of children, teachers, and parents to take part in a variety of different activities, including; but not limited to: volleyball, netball, rope-skipping, hockey, football, and gymnastics. Along with that, we had a large amount of supporting associations attend the event to volunteer and teach participants the fundamentals of their sports. The day was
based around informing and encouraging residents in Mbabane and Lobamba to live a healthier lifestyle, and the benefits it will provide for their future. During this event, my task was to enroll, allocate jobs, and supervise the volunteers. The day went even better than expected and the feedback we received from the event was more pleasant than I anticipated!
The most recent event that took place was the TFCF Sports Bonanza 2017, and this was one of my main focuses during the first half of my internship. For those who are unfamiliar with this event, we gathered a total of 810 students from nine different primary schools from all over Swaziland to compete in friendly competition at the Olympafrica Centre in Lobamba. They competed in Futbolnet, Sitting Volley, Obstacle Courses, Baseball, Frontball, and Speed-Skipping. I finally got a taste for how prepared you must be when running an event of this magnitude, but I loved every second of it! Changes were being made here and there, and it was almost as if I was trying to become a fairy god mother; trying to make everything happen in the blink of an eye! But working with SOCGA has its benefits, because everyone here is used to working under pressure and I could not have asked for a better group of people to work on this with; especially the volunteers. I held a training session three days prior to the event with 14 of the attending volunteers. The goal of the training session was to teach the volunteers the appropriate rules and regulations, how to use the score sheets, who to report to, how we were going to organize the groups, etc. and they caught on very quickly and were a very big part of why the event was so successful.
Overall, the event went very well, and everyone was pleased with our efforts. The students displayed some of the kindest acts of sportsmanship I’ve ever witnessed before, and although competed very intensely, they kept the focus of the competition on enjoyment. During the TFCF Sports Bonanza 2017, I found myself missing something from Canada for the first time…Walkie-Talkie’s…. I re-modified the layout of the event to be larger and more open, and I paid the price for it on the day of the event. With little to no method of communication, I was sprinting from one competition to another every second of the day trying to assist everyone as fast as possible. Needless to say, it worked out, and the event was a great success!
The workload has become lighter now that the event is over, so I decided to cook a Czech breakfast that I learned how to make during my previous exchange in the Czech Republic (prior to this internship). So Nomcebo and I made Palacinka for the entire office!
For the remainder of my internship, I’ve requested that I be relocated to Lobamba, Swaziland, so that I may offer my assistance at the Olympafrica Centre. I only have a few weeks left with SOCGA and I would like to place myself in a position that would be the most beneficial for the organization. Along with that, I have signed up for the Sibebe Survivor with Noreen and will be climbing up Sibebe Rock on August 6th with 5000 other participants; so wish me luck!
I hope everything is well back in Canada!