After a year of internship at the African School of Economics, a Pan-African university based in Abomey-Calavi, Princeton-in-Africa fellow Philile Shongwe recounts her experience in Benin.

Tell us briefly about yourself

My name is Philile Shongwe and I was born and raised in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Before joining ASE as a Princeton-in-Africa fellow, I was studying at Yale University where I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Global Affairs and French.

What roles have you played at ASE? And in which departments did you work?

My role at ASE was multi-faceted and I had the opportunity to work with different departments. Mainly, I worked on various research projects led by Professor Markus Olapade, assisted in the Communications department with managing the website, and taught a foundational English class for first-year students.

 What did this internship bring you in terms of skills?

Before joining ASE, I had never been involved in extensive research planning and field preparation, so my experiences doing research here have been very helpful moving forward. I also acquired a lot of skills in Communications, particularly in website management and visual design. My experience teaching English at ASE has deepened my understanding of the challenges associated with teaching, and this will definitely influence my career plans in future.

On a cultural level, what did you learn from this trip?

Culturally, I noticed some similarities between Swaziland and Benin – such as the love for music and dance! But living in Benin for a year also opened my eyes to the rich history and culture that I was unaware of. I found Beninese people to be incredibly grateful and passionate and I especially appreciated Beninese cuisine and learning how to dance salsa! 

If you were given a chance to repeat the ASE experience in the future, would you be ready to do so?

Yes, definitely. And I would learn more Fon. (smile)