Danielle Toop - 2014 Program Participant

Teaching ballet in Kabokweni, South Africa

Teaching ballet in Kabokweni.

What inspired you to become a dance volunteer abroad?

I have a huge passion for dance, and in recent years I have felt that I should share my passion with other people from around the world who perhaps are less fortunate than myself when it comes to learning to dance and getting the enjoyment out of it that I do.

How did you decide on South Africa for your volunteering experience?

The dance culture in South Africa is awesome. I hoped that I would get to teach a small portion of our western dance culture, and also be fortunate enough to learn a thing or two about the dance culture of South Africa, which I did end up doing! South Africa is a beautiful country and I wanted to combine my volunteering experience with a good travel experience.

Why did you choose Performing Arts Abroad for your program?

The program that I chose had a lot to offer, and I felt that there was a great deal included in what I was paying for.

Elephant in South Africa

Hanging out with the elephants.

What was a typical day like as a dance volunteer in South Africa?

Wake up, have breakfast, enjoy the gorgeous sun for a while, go to different locations and teach some incredible students, come home, have tea, chill either at home or out and about, and then fall asleep. Every day was so much fun, and no day went by when I was bored or wishing for something else to happen.

Would you return to South Africa if you were given the opportunity? Why?

I had too much fun to not do it again! It is amazing just how much of the world there is to see, so I don’t always stay cooped up in the comfort of one country. I have learned so much about myself and how I should not take things as for granted. I came back from South Africa a more grown up, independent woman and any changes that happened to me during my time abroad were definitely for the better.

How have your experiences in South Africa stayed with you?

I was teaching children who are currently being deprived of a good education like the one that I grew up receiving. Each time I taught them I felt so rewarded and they really made me feel like getting taught by me was a privilege for them. This is something that will be on my mind and make me smile for the rest of my life. I have always loved to dance, but I love it even more now that I know I have been able to use it in order to give less fortunate people a great gift.

If you had the chance to travel again, where would you go?

It is difficult to choose just one place where I would go. I would go somewhere where I feel that my time would really be appreciated and where I would just be able to keep on teaching dance to a truly worthwhile bunch of people.

Teaching children in Zwelisha, South Africa

Teaching the children in Zwelisha.

What advice would you give to others interested in volunteering in South Africa?

Do it! I can promise that you will not regret it and you will have the best time of your life.