Jared (pictured on the right) joined the VACorps program in January 2021 as part of his gap year and participated in an internship at an NGO that provides support, education, and integration services to immigrants. Jared will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, where he intends to major in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Energy and Sustainability.
“These past few months have been some of the most formative and exhilarating of my life. When I discovered VACorps in September, I applied immediately on a whim, but the thought of actually coming to South Africa and doing an internship here in the midst of a pandemic seemed laughable and almost dream-like. But there was the VACorps staff, instantly walking me through the rest of my application, meeting with me with less than a few hours’ notice, asking me about my personal and professional interests and my preferred internship placement. They were so dedicated to making this happen for me, and for that, I am beyond grateful.
When I finally arrived in Cape Town, halfway across the world and knowing no one, I was so nervous. But VACorps made the transition so fluid. Within two hours of landing, we were already on a hike and then exploring the city’s neighborhoods. The orientation week was absolutely perfect; it provided an ideal mix of structure and independence such that I could instantly acclimate to my new home.
It is hard to pinpoint the highlight of this journey because every part of it has met and surpassed my expectations. My internship (where I work with and teach refugees) has been so interesting and fulfilling—I genuinely look forward to going to work each day. Weekends in Cape Town are even more amazing. There are an endless amount of once-in-a-lifetime activities to do here: snorkeling with seals, sandboarding, wine tasting, hiking Table Mountain, skydiving, bungee jumping, shark cage diving, seeing wild animals on a safari, swimming with penguins, surfing, or tanning at the most gorgeous beaches. Cape Town is undoubtedly the coolest place I have ever been to. I’ve spent three months here, and I can say with absolute certainty that I could spend three more and never run out of things to do.
I am so sad to be leaving Cape Town, but I will cherish the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had for a very long time. Coming here has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and easily the highlight of my gap year. I would recommend VACorps to any independent and adventurous individual enthusiastically and without reservation.”