Published On: 27 June 2024

Making a Difference Through Ethical Communications

At university, for years, I had been learning the importance of using communication to make an ethically driven impact. However, it is one thing to read and learn about this, in comparison to actually doing it. At THINK, in the span of weeks of starting my internship, I learned the reality of it. From the get-go, I had been taught the real-life possibilities and responsibilities of communication.

As a German student who studied International Communication Management in The Netherlands and South Korea, I was excited about the opportunity to learn about a new culture – the South African culture – at THINK. Communication always requires the element of cultural awareness sensitivity. Both university and travelling have taught me that. However, with South Africa specifically, I didn’t have many points of reference before I jumped on board. While I was aware of South Africa’s complex history, I did not fully grasp the extent of its impact, nor how it translates into its society today. So naturally, South Africa’s cultural context confronted me with the opportunity for growth to match that same cultural nuance with my internship.

The more I learned and worked with the South African team, the more I understood that acknowledging and appreciating diversity in a specifically nuanced way is vital. This insight enriched not only my understanding, but also my products in a way that can’t be taught by any university – only by reality itself.

One example of an opportunity where I learned about the importance of nuanced, purposeful communication, was the THINK branding process. There I supported the branding process by combining my academic knowledge of branding with Mighty Ally workshops. Thoughtful wording and nuanced discussions filled the reality of this experience.

Another example is the World Tuberculosis Day 2024 campaign, for which I created the foundation and performed research to ultimately design the final products. It gave me the opportunity to collaboratively create meaningful communication products autonomically, to expand my knowledge about Tuberculosis and to receive feedback on my work and its cultural nuance.

Throughout all this, online communication became not only about delivering a message. It became about the openness to understanding different perspectives. To empathetically listen to the communities we serve, and our colleagues. To understand the levels of nuance required for authentic and meaningful communication for THINK.

Looking back on my internship experience with THINK, I learned a lot. The biggest takeaway being words have the power to shape realities. In the case of THINK, words have the power to inspire change and hope, paving the way towards a better future. My official role was ‘Communications Intern’, but I would like to argue it went beyond the simple description. My task was to communicate about the past and present in a way that shaped the future and creates opportunities for the impact we, as an organisation and as a society, can make.

I am grateful for the opportunity, lessons, and connections my THINK internship provided me with. It feels like I truly made a difference.

Rebecca Lengeling

Communications Intern, THINK
January – June 2024