Hannah Green - 2015 Program Participant

Skydiving in Cape Town, South Africa

Skydiving over Cape Town

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

Having traveled to Europe before and studied in Australia, I wanted to go some place I had not gone before. I knew that South Africa was a place like no other and I was ready to step outside my comfort zone and take the risk!

Why did you choose Volunteer Adventure Corps?

I was attracted to Volunteer Adventure Corps because of how easy it was to not only communicate with the program directors but also to plan my stay to my desire. Originally wanting to go for six weeks, I was advised, because of school holiday, that staying for longer would give me more experience in the classroom, and it ended up working out great. I also really liked the Friday activity features of VAC, that from the start I knew would give me unique opportunities to meet others in the same program as well as see parts of the city and country in a different way!

Shark cage diving in Gansbaai Bay, South Africa

Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai Bay

What was your favorite part about Cape Town? 

There is truly no place in the world like Cape Town, the scenery, the opportunities, the restaurants, the history. Everything about Cape Town is unique to it. You can never get over waking up each and every morning to see Table Mountain out your window. There is never a day in Cape Town spent in the house; even on the "coldest" or rainiest winter day, you will find yourself wanting to get out and explore.

What made your program experience unique? 

VAC is as hands on as you want it to be. After arriving and getting adjusted through orientation and the first day of work, it is up to the participant as to how much they want to be associated with VAC. If one chooses to take full advantage, like myself, their experience will be fantastic. 

Being on the meal plan gives you an opportunity to meet new people pretty much every night at dinner, gives you an infinite circle of friends to hang out with other than your roommates, and truly gives you a whole picture on everyone's internship sites as you share stories.

Friday activities are optional, and I honestly did not participate in all of them as some of the things I had already done; the ones I did go on were great, and the Friday's skipped we would get a group together and do our own activity, never wasting a minute.

And lastly, the staff are there for you for anything.

How did the local staff support you throughout your program?

They will truly help you with anything. Any questions or concerns they respond to immediately, and even better was they are there to be your friends. Both from South Africa and not, they understand what it is like to be in a foreign place and want you to fall in love with the country as much as they have.

The VAC staff, hands down, make the program incredible, so take full advantage of getting to know them.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I would have previously studied the history of South Africa before going there. I would have liked to know more about Apartheid, the demographics, etc., to have a better understanding once I arrived.

Lions Head, Cape Town, South Africa

At the top of Lion’s Head

Describe a day in the life of your program.

Worked at the Observatory Primary Junior Day School 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Afternoon walk or run around the Observatory, grocery shopped at Pick n’ Pay on Main Road, ventured into the city  center, walked around UCT, waited for others to return from work (usually between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.). Hung out with housemates and neighbors to share stories from our days, often went to Kirstenbosch Gardens to watch the sunsets. Pick one of a million restaurants to go to for dinner and pick up lunches at FOREX (meal plan). Depending on the night or the activities that were going on, we would go out with other interns or we’d often have movie nights!

What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?

Hiking Table Mountain; having done it four times while I was there with different groups and on different paths, I can honestly say each time was just as good as the next. The views were always just as breathtaking as the first time.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it? 

I lived in a Rent a Room house with 17 other people. Originally I had planned to move out after one week, due to scheduling conflicts, but instead I requested that I stay in the house. Living with that many people sounds intimidating. but it turned out to be the best! There is always someone to talk to, hang out with, stay up late with to watch a movie, or go for a walk in the neighborhood with. It was also the main hang out house, so others would always be there to greet you! It was also in a great location, which is important for walking home at night especially.

South African students on Elephant Appreciation Day

Grade 2 at OJS showing their elephant masks for Elephant Appreciation Day!

How has your time in South Africa impacted your life?

After having sobbed on the airplane for the first three hours of the nine, I realized how lucky I am to have had this experience. I thank my parents and family for giving me the travel bug and supporting me to go thousands of miles away for a summer.

I have come to realize how much this world has to offer and how insignificant my "day to day problems" really are. I have met the most interesting people, listened to their stories, and been inspired by children very different than the ones I see in North Carolina.

I see Americans who have picked up their lives and moved to Cape Town. When I first got there I thought they are crazy, but now I see their desire to be there. I see the special parts of Cape Town that make someone never want to leave. Truly when someone asks how my summer was, I can't help but say more than "great!" or "amazing!", because one will not understand until they see for themselves.