Absera Maricos - 2015 Program Participant
Why did you decide to apply for an international program?
I had already done a private internship at an orphanage in Eritrea from 2010 till 2011. I was born and raised up in Germany, but my parents come from Eritrea. So, I decided I wanted to do an internship in my "home"country. That's also why it was not as big deal of a deal for me to go abroad. For me, it was a new experience applying an international program with an organisation, but I knew it would be easier than a private internship.
Welcomed view of Cape Town
Why did you choose Volunteering Solutions?
First of all, one of my dreams at 16 was going to South Africa. Actually, volunteering in South Africa came afterwards, but I am glad that I did volunteer over there. I really searched what organization would be good for me. Not just the cost, but more what the organization could do for me and how they could help me fulfill my dreams, as well as where it was located in South Africa. Then one day it just happened; I found Volunteering Solutions, and it was just what I was looking for. I prefered to teach as opposed to other volunteering because I study education and sociology. It was really nice to see what teaching in South Africa is like, so I could compare it to teaching in Germany.
What was your favorite part about Cape Town?
It was BEAUTIFUL. Favorite part? Everything. The people, food, teaching, sun, beach, long streets, literally everything. It is the place to be in Africa.
What made your program special?
Everything really, it was wonderful to see how South African pupils learn. I loved it!
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Noel was a great teacher, with regards to South Africa as well as life in general.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
Nothing. FOR REAL.
Describe a day in the life of your program.
Morning: wake up and breakfast, then working in the school by 8 a.m. Teaching in school until 12:30 p.m., when we had lunch. During the break, I’d keep busy looking after the kids outside.
What did you like doing on your free time?
Going out and meeting all different kinds of people. When I met locals they always showed me a little bit of Cape Town; whether at the beach, in the city, in a club, or in the school, I really talked with everyone, so they could show me a little bit of life in Cape Town.
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
I stayed in a volunteer house. The best thing about it was Noel, he was the best teacher.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
A LOT! My whole life has been confusing. Am I German? Am I Eritrean? But in South Africa, it was all okay. I was just European, although sometimes people showed me how I was African. I got to see 13 year old girls doing their hair together at school, and it made me realize what I missed out on as a child, because I am black and I grew up in Europe around only Europeans. It made me wish I had other African girls in my class back in Germany when I was growing up, so this experience showed me what I missed out on as a teenager.
But, at the same time, despite having each other, many of the students had problems at home that I was thankful I didn’t have growing up. Some of them had single mothers, so they didn’t have anyone to care for them in the afternoons. Many of them couldn’t afford to go to school, and most of them will never attend university. It made me realize what I had in Germany. Yes, I couldn’t be with other black or African girls in my classes. BUT, I got the chance to go to school for free and have a better chance of going to university. Now I am doing my bachelor thesis, but if I would have grew up in South Africa or Eritrea, I would not have such an opportunity because I wouldn’t have enough money to afford it.
I really realized the gold card I was handed in life as an African female in the world today. Since I live in Europe, I can enjoy freedom and education. I am blessed to be Eritrean (African) and German (European); a mixture of these two cultures is not bad, it is actually quite good, because now I can understand what it means to have different kinds of cultural perspectives.
South Africa changed my view of life, and I will never forget it, especially my teaching time in South Africa. Thank you Volunteering Solutions!