Mara participated in an Education internship in Cape Town as part of her Gap Year with VACorps in January 2018.
“When I decided to take a gap year, I was initially wonderfully overwhelmed with the number of options that the world presented me. With each Google search, I discovered a new country, new possibility, and a new adventure. I battled the decision between a structured program, travelling all around, or living more long-term in a foreign place. When I found VAC I was immediately interested. Cape Town has been on my list of top cities to visit for quite a while.
Growing up in Manhattan, I’m a city girl through and through and definitely consider that important in places I want to stay, but I love the outdoors and active adventures. All my life I had pretty much accepted the two lifestyles were mutually exclusive, except for coming to Cape Town I realized I had found the exception.
It provides a bustling city with numerous options, combined with dramatic and beautiful mountains, all bordering the sea. It still blows my mind that such a combination exists. The city has so much depth and culture and is home to a huge variety of people. With VAC’s help, the city is easy to navigate and easy to integrate within. There are activities every week to expose you to different facets of Cape Town living and they are encouraging of branching out and exploring all different neighbourhoods and interacting with all different people. I found the transition seamless upon arrival and in no time at all, I felt like I had been here forever.
My internship provided me with a daily routine and a place to stretch myself in a professional environment in a way I have not yet had the opportunity to do. VAC orients you thoroughly to South African culture and provides plenty of prep and knowledge on how to assimilate to whatever job you are doing. There is so much opportunity to meet amazing people and in my three months in Cape Town, I have made friends I have no doubt I will keep in touch with long after my departure. The interns that come here through VAC come from all different backgrounds, but share the commonality of all loving Cape Town and seeking new friends. We are all joined easily by VAC activities and our proximity through the housing in Observatory. Throughout the duration of my stay here, I struggled to find a single day when there wasn’t something I wanted to do, whether that was a braai at a neighbors house, an outdoor movie, a sunrise hike, a surf day, concerts, road trips, excursions, or just good food and good fun with amazing company.
I really enjoyed my work with the kids at my site. They are so bubbly and filled with joy, and seeing the happiness that the slightest thing can bring it really both inspiring and uplifting. I similarly enjoyed getting to know all the other workers at my site and learning more about their backgrounds and what brought them to AT – their stories are equally inspiring.
I most appreciated the accessibility of VAC, whose office is just a short walk away at all times. Quick to respond and ready to help, I found that they put all worries about living in a totally different country at ease and provided all the support one could want. whether it is your first time travelling or you are a veteran, VAC gives you all the tools and options you need and leaves it to you to take what you chose and participate to your desired level, making it an ideal program for any aspiring intern.”