The internship program in South Africa had three-four interns at all times, and each intern could choose how long they would stay (two to eight weeks). About three weeks into my internship another woman arrived in which I knew right from the start that we were not going to get along well. This woman was in her late 50’s and going the project just for fun, she had actually come to the project last summer as well, but all she ever talked about from the start was her experience last year. When this woman, Andrea, was at the project the summer before there was a completely different staff, the reserve had just started dehorning rhino so that was pretty much what she did everyday, and the coordinator at the time had the interns making the animal ID kits. This year, the coordinator was new and did all of the ID kits by herself, we only had to assist in a few rhino dehorning as they were finishing up the last with fully grown horns, and all the staff members she had worked with before had left.
From a combination of many things, including those listed above, her work ethic, and much more, Andrea and I ended up getting in a heated argument at lunch one day. After apologizing to the coordinator who witnessed it, I moved on and went back to work. The next few days at work was data collection so we were out in a cruiser for most of the day in which Andrea decided to stay at home so she didn’t have to work with me. So instead of just the obstacle of having to deal with her before the argument, I know had the additional obstacle of making the situation comfortable for everyone else, which meant making her happy.
To overcome this last obstacle I decide to make dinner for all the interns one night and personally invite her and apologize to her about what happened. Although our apologies were quite basic and maybe not heartfelt, they were good enough to make everyone happy. Andrea began joining us on drives again, she helped to make meals and boil water at the intern house, and much more. When Andrea left, two weeks after our argument, we had gotten comfortable enough to have regular conversations and enjoy our work alone or together.
From this situation I learned that I need to find different outlets for anger because holding everything in will eventually lead to an explosion,, and that apologizing and moving on from a situation like this is better done quickly so that everyone around isn’t left in an awkward situation.