Howzit peeps! My name is Carmen Rae Kingwill and I am super excited to have recently joined the VACorps team! As Program Coordinator I will be doing a lil bit of everything (as coordinators do) – so you can expect to see a lot of me, both in person and online. My main role is to make sure that all of you, potential and current interns, have an absolute blast in this city I call home, Cape Town. So how about I tell you a little bit more about myself so that you understand how and why I ended up at VAC.
I am a born and bred South African and very proudly so! I was born in the Eastern Cape, however, I have moved around quite a bit in South Africa (and abroad…keep reading to find out more!) My family is sports and nature lovers, so growing up, weekends were spent hiking, cycling, abseiling, kayaking etc. and when our family was given the opportunity to move from the city to my dad’s family farm (a wool-producing sheep farm in the Karoo) we embraced the opportunity. However, this meant that I had to go to boarding school from a young age. Living far away from my parents, brother, pets and all the comforts of home, was difficult, however, it forced me to become independent and resulted in a very deep appreciation for family and ‘home.’ It also taught me to truly appreciate the friendship and support of those around me, and these people became more than just friends, they became family.
I think it’s due to the fact that I lived away from home during my childhood years that the decision to take a GAP year as an 18-year old and work as an au-pair in New York City for a year was a very exciting adventure for me rather than a daunting one. Now that I’m older and wiser I realize just how daunting going abroad on your own is! During my year in the USA, I had the opportunity to attend a local college where I did courses in Educational and Sports Psychology. My interest in these subjects, an inherited love of sports, combined with my passion for people (specifically children) resulted in my decision to do an Honours Degree in Sports Science with majors in Child Development and Psychology.
Directly after obtaining my degree, I started working as a volunteer at a rural orphan village in KZN. Here I performed a variety of roles in the Early Childhood Development, Social Work, Education and Health departments on the village. One of my roles was hosting and overseeing the numerous international volunteers who came to the village. Interaction with the volunteers fed the travel bug inside me and made me start dreaming of traveling abroad again.
I’d always said I was going to live somewhere where there were oceans, mountains and forests, so in 2014, when I was offered a job in the Mother-City (Cape Town) I made the cross-country move. My job in Cape Town saw me doing sales and training of educators all across the Cape and I spent many days driving into the townships of Cape Town on my own, to train educators and interact with the adorable children at their schools.When I arrived in Cape Town I challenged myself to try a new activity and go somewhere I hadn’t been before every single month! This challenge saw me try out surfing, ballroom dancing, CrossFit, choir, bridge swinging, organizing a fundraiser, doing further studies in Education and Project Management and much more! However, once I tried out Ironman triathlon training I was hooked and have since been training and coaching #swimbikerun (triathlon) and have participated in various multisport and single sports events.Those closest to me say I am involved in far too much, however I just have many hobbies and interests and like to spread out my time between photography, baking, singing, watching the TV series ‘SUITS’, wine tasting, shopping online, reading, playing board and card games and organizing social “get-togethers” with friends.
My most recent adventure was a solo Euro trip. Like I mentioned previously, travel abroad had become something I really wanted to do again, so at the end of 2016, I started looking for short-term job opportunities in the European country I wanted to visit the most – Croatia. To my delight, there were positions available at an International Children’s Summer Camp on the Adriatic coast. I applied for the post and was accepted to be one of 32 counselors who would work with approximately 750 children from 27 different countries over the course of 9 weeks. I specifically had the privilege of overseeing the teens (aged 14-17) as we participated in adventure activities such as hiking, mountain biking, wilderness survival, paintball, rafting etc. Prior to camp, I visited the Netherlands and Germany and after camp, I did solo travels in Croatia and Greece. My time in Europe gave me great insight into various cultures, their differences and similarities and it allowed me to freshly experience what it’s like to be the foreigner.
It is with my experience as a traveler, adventurer, challenge-seeker and problem-solver that I enter into this new role confident that I will have an amazing time serving VACorps and you, the interns who are/become part of the program. I am passionate about making everyone around me feel welcome, valued and included, this probably comes from all my years of travel and ‘being the new girl on the block.’ I look forward to getting to know each of you and learning about your cultures as I share as much of my knowledge and secret tips of South Africa with you.
My favourite mottos are “Live life without regrets“ and “You only live once, so make it a good one and leave a legacy!“ I hope to assist you in having zero regrets in your decision to visit SA and helping you leave your own small legacy behind in our rainbow nation- South Africa.