Petronella (pictured on the right) currently works at UNICEF and is studying toward her Master’s in Counselling Psychology at Webster University, Geneva. She joined the VACorps Program in September 2022 and participated in a psychology internship at a clinic for adolescents.
“In late 2019 when I started my search for an internship location, I had no idea or the slightest inclination that I would end up in Cape Town. As I searched online, I came across the VACorps website and read about VACorps and the testimonials from the previous interns and I knew I had finally found my internship destination – Cape Town and with VACorps.
I started the internship application process and everything was running smoothly until Covid struck and then I had to put my internship on hold as the world went into lockdown. What I really appreciated even when everything was on hold is the effort that VAcorps staff and especially Loyiso put in keeping me updated on the progress he was making to find an internship site that would suit my interests.
Even though it took 2 years before I could finally travel to Cape Town and do my internship, it was well worth the wait, and I was definitely not disappointed. My internship site at the adolescent mental health clinic has been extremely fulfilling, and even though at times it was heartbreaking to listen to the difficult mental health issues of the patients, that is what the internship was about, and I learned a great deal. The staff at the site was very friendly and it took less than a day to feel at home. Sometimes the activities at the clinic required just shadowing the professionals but this was also a perfect way of observing and learning and soaking in the “silent experience” gathered.
I came to Cape Town only focused on completing a two-month internship, but I must admit the weekly activities organized by VACorps led me to see and appreciate that there is a lot more to the experience than just interning in Cape Town. The city is just beautiful and my two months felt a little short to appreciate everything that the city has to offer. So all I can say is that my internship period was just a ‘Cape Town appetizer’ and I will definitely come back for more when I have more time. But in the meantime a BIG BRAVO to VACorps for not being just an internship agency but for going beyond to integrate the interns into South Africa. The weekly activities, especially the visit to GAPA (Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids) have led to my being ´adopted’ by the grannies and now I leave Cape Town as a ´grandchild’ of GAPA and so this gives me a good reason to come back to Cape Town. I will be collaborating with GAPA to set up a similar project back home. So thanks to VACorps for without you I wouldn’t have met those inspirational, strong women.
For anyone considering interning with VACorps, you will NOT regret that decision. The personal and professional experience gained will definitely leave a mark on your heart that will be with you forever. And for anyone coming to intern, come with an open mind, ready to embrace all there is to enjoy from nature to food, to massive shopping malls, and most of all to the very friendly people of South Africa. So for now, it is not goodbye Cape Town but see you again in the near future.”