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Education internships in South Africa
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Education internships in South Africa

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Student teaching in South Africa -- the fulfillment of a bucket list goal!

Yesterday one of the new interns asked me what my favorite thing has been in Cape Town, and honestly, I could not answer. Everything has been my favorite thing, from my visits to Kruger National Park and the Garden Route, to climbing Table Mountain, to singing the national anthem (in all four languages!) with one of my senior girls at my last assembly at Cape Town High School--and the alto part, no less. I enjoyed the train--as slow, smelly, and crowded as it is, I had so many chance conversations with locals and visitors that I otherwise would have missed, and I loved walking up the hill to my high school into what felt like the mountain's embrace. Personally and professionally, this has been an extremely engaging and fulfilling three months.

I can safely say that my students and I developed a quick bond from the first day that I met them. The school system here emphasizes a fierce discipline, much more like an urban school in the United States than the suburban high school where I completed the first part of my student teaching. Some of them saw me as the easy teacher in comparison with my mentor teacher, and all of them were initially confused by the activities I designed for them that veered from a lecture format. One of my greatest moments was when I gave the seniors a carousel activity, and my mentor teacher turned to me and said, "Look at them! Each one of them is engaged in the work." I actually found it easy to engage all of my students, that they were eager for discussion and clarity. I even named them, because I name everything I love: my grade 9s were my Big Cats, and I was Chief Cat Herder; my grade 10s were my Babies, because they were always so easy to teach and so eager to learn; my grade 11s were my Underdogs, because they received more criticism than they deserved; and my grade 12s were my Gold Stars, because they so easily slipped into intellectual, thoughtful discussion when given the opportunity.

I have been fascinated with South Africa and Cape Town for over 20 years, and Nelson Mandela is in my estimation one of the greatest men who has ever lived. Thus, coming here was the fulfillment of a bucket list goal that I've had since Apartheid ended. The wonderful surprise of my internship and my visit here is that everything exceeded all of my expectations. I find myself feeling at once fulfilled and also eager to return one day to the Mother City's embrace. She has held me very close and dear.

Tips for future interns at the school: You must put yourself forward and ask for things to do. You must make an effort to talk to your colleagues.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Work Environment

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Internship Placement

    10

Observatory Primary School

Working at OJS was absolutely perfect! Teaching the literacy program to struggling readers was a great opportunity and was relevant to my studies back in the States. My supervisor was very supportive as well as the other school staff.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Can't wait to be back!

Being able to work and live in Observatory has forever changed my life, and it will never be forgotten. While living in Observatory, there was always something new to see or do. There was always a new restaurant or café to go to. The vibe that you experience because of how it is set up and the people who live in the town is very unique. I loved being able to work in Observatory. I was able to compare and contrast the United States schools versus South African schools in terms of teaching techniques, curriculum, and assessments. At least in Observatory, their were a lot of behavior management problems that could have easily been solved, but are lacking. It was interesting to see and to learn about the assessments that the children have to take. I think it is great that South Africa requires children to learn English along with two other African languages. I was thrilled that not only was I able to create lessons for the children, but I was also able to teach them to some groups of children. I was also given the opportunity to work with the more struggling children in some of the grades and help them with their English. Working at this schools has really made me consider coming back to Cape Town after I graduate and work here permanently.

Not only was living in working in Observatory amazing, but just being in one of the most beautiful cities was amazing. Not many people get to experience a place like this, and I am very grateful for have been give the opportunity. Thank you VAC for everything.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Work Environment

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Internship Placement

    10

My education internship

I chose Cape Town because I knew it had culture and history that I wanted to get to know. I have always been interested in Africa so I took the opportunity and went with it.

For my internship I knew I wanted to do something involving the community and Cape Town has so many wonderful organizations focused on helping the community and I was really drawn to that.
I love the atmosphere at my office. Me and my supervisor get along really well and I am very thankful for her and for my placement. one of my favorite moments though was getting to go to a primary school and see an Oaky lesson be taught.

My internship has taught me that I definitely do not want a desk job. But it has also taught me how to handle family businesses/organizations, how to handle unkind behavior in a positive, manageable way. I personally have grown in independence and my ability to get work done.

I will next forget going to the primary schools and the excitement on the kids faces. Specifically this one kid who wants to become an astronaut and said he wanted to learn to read just so he could teach his little brother. I also will never forget all the cover and coffees.

I have loved getting to explore new foods and all the different experiences I have gotten to have exploring Cape Town. I am glad I stayed for 8 weeks and not 6 because I had more time to do things as well as just enjoy the city. I wish I had more time though, but at the same time I am ready to go home. It is many mixed emotions.

I would recommend VAC because the staff is very nice, welcoming and helpful. They also provide amazing trips. VAC is good with placement and fitting people with organizations.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Work Environment

    8

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    9

Be open to your future career

I did not have nay non-profit experience before starting this internship. I appreciate the professionals there. The loving and caring environment made me feel at home. They know what they do matters to the youth. I worked in the communication department. Whilst I was there they were undergoing rebranding which was great to be a part of. I got the opportunity to help shape the future of the organisation. This experience was amazing. I got to know how hard the rebranding process is and where attention should be focused during the rebranding. Valuable experience.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    6

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Work Environment

    7

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

Life in Cape Town

I had an amazing experience with VAC in Cape Town. I worked in a primary school with student who were bussed in from townships. Two days a week I did one on one literacy tutoring and two days a week I helped coach PE classes. I enjoyed every moment in Cape Town and am sad to leave!