Meet our international intern: Nick Matlin

JET Education Services annually facilitates an internship programme with the University of Pennsylvania, USA

This year, we have welcomed Nicholas (Nick) Matlin, PhD, who joins us from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States this winter (Philadelphia’s summer) as an intern in the research unit.  We’ve gotten to know Nick over these past several weeks and celebrate his time with us in South Africa.

Apart from his years in Philadelphia, Nick grew up outside Boston, Massachusetts before his journey through higher education.  Nick spent his university years at Kenyon College, a small liberal arts college in rural Ohio, where he majored in English and minored in Anthropology, completing his degree in 2005.  Following his undergraduate years, Nick immediately launched into his graduate work where he completed his M.A. in Colonial and Post-Colonial Literature at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England until 2006.  After a few years of work in various jobs, Nick returned to higher education to pursue a PhD in English at New York University, completing a dissertation on literature, politics, and crime during the apartheid era in South Africa.  Nick stayed at New York University as a lecturer for a couple of years beyond his time as a student.  After five years in New York City, Nick transitioned again and taught secondary school for five years, before deciding to be a student again at the University of Pennsylvania.  In December, Nick will complete a M.S.Ed degree in International Educational Development.

From his perspective on education, Nick notes, “I am passionate about education and effective teaching, as I see education as a key way to fight structural inequality and to build a more inclusive, understanding, and prosperous world. There are, however, massive equity issues in terms of who has access to quality education.”

Throughout his career, Nick has done a substantial amount of research, engaging with or rooted in South Africa.  By working with JET, Nick has had the chance to further engage with South Africa and continue to understand the structural inequities that have been central concerns in his past teaching and research.  Nick says, “JET also has a reputation for being a rigorous and innovative organisation; as such, it seemed like the ideal place for me to develop new skills and to work with people with similar interests and passions.”

Most of Nick’s JET work has focused on the Bridging the Gap project, which examines how teacher development policy is formulated and implemented in South Africa.  Additional projects include work on the TICZA programme, help on institutional outcome harvesting, as well as supporting the summative evaluation of the PILO Jika iMfundo programme.

Nick shares, “My experience at JET has been equally exciting, challenging, busy, and rewarding. I am continually learning new approaches and skills. While I have spent quite a bit of time in South Africa over the past fifteen years, each time I come it is different. I have had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and explore Johannesburg further—the city never stays still.”

Nick will remain with JET through August and plans to spend time with his family when they visit here, before heading back to the United States.  Once back in the U.S., Nick will complete the final semester of his M.S.Ed program and will pursue further work in the education and development sector.