I happened
to be one of the luckiest interns of my batch: I was one of the few who had the
opportunity to leave the office and go on a field trip! The word ‘field trip’ is
however a bit troublesome as it refers to any place in a ‘developing’ country
as a ‘field’ while almost half of the population in lower and middle income
countries live in cities that are often 10 times bigger than the cities we,
so-called ‘developed’ people live. Later this year I will be doing ‘field work’
to gather data for my masters’ thesis, again, this will probably be in a
developing city – not a field. Anyway, back to my Oxfam internship experience.

As I was
saying, I was able to go to the field aka Nairobi, for a gathering on Land
issues in a Pan-African context: the Oxfam Pan African Land Programme meeting. Although
supporting the organizing team of this meeting was one of my first and most
time-consuming jobs of my internship, I didn’t know right away if I could also
actually attend this meeting. So when few weeks into my internship my
supervisor was convinced of my interning skills and general coolness, I was
asked: ‘If I would also want to go to Nairobi’. I think I thought about it for
exactly 0.1 milliseconds before I could (almost scream) YES with a smile on my
face that wouldn’t go away for the rest of the day.


I was now
not only responsible for the general communication with the participants and the
booking of their flights, but also the whole documentation (taking notes,
minutes, photo’s, etcetera) of the four-day meeting. This meant that I able to
actually meet the people I had been emailing with, and that I could actively
learn about how Oxfam works (on the Land side at least).

11 country
representatives of Oxfam country offices from West, East and Southern Africa were
attending the meeting, along with several staff members of the Pan Africa
Programme Office, some global Land advisors (that are the people from Oxfam
affiliate offices these in turn are not Oxfam country offices – Oxfam is
seriously complicated). Anyhow, in total there were 24 people at this meeting
to exchange experiences and knowledge on several key areas including
strengthening women’s land rights, customary land tenure, national, regional
and global influencing, private sector engagement and fundraising.


Apart from
the meeting being super interesting for me as a master student in international
development studies, I was also amazed by the work ethic
of the ‘Land people’. Not only did everyone actively participate during the
meeting from 9 to 18, there were extra lunch and dinner mini-meetings in
between and most people would still work after dinner to responding to the
relentless stream of emails (a standard headache for every Oxfam employee). This
however did not prevent me from going on morning and evening walks just outside
our meeting venue (an hour outside Nairobi) to spot some of Kenya’s amazing


By Sunday
everybody had gone home, but I had followed the advice from my supervisors and
stayed a bit longer to go on a mini-safari in the National Park right outside
Nairobi where I saw buffalos, giraffes, zebras, gazelles and so much more.

Now I have
only on month left as an intern at Oxfam Novib and I hope that my next
internship (or real job – but let’s be realistic) will be just as exciting,
hands-on and illuminating as this one…

“Andrea Vos is an intern at our land and water unit.
She is in for any adventure, from living in Ecuador to going to Nairobi for
Oxfam Novib. With her knowledge of Dutch, English and Spanish she is a great
addition to our team.  


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