Alexa Tovsen
Minnesota, USA

I applied to my program 2 days before the deadline and had to accept my position within one week.  My public health program sounded like a perfect fit, but I flipped back and forth about my decision wondering if I was making a rash decision.  The work experience, the travel, the friends, the adventure- it all sounded too good to be true.  I am here to tell you wholeheartedly that it is 100% as good as it seems.  I have been exposed to people and experiences that have changed my life forever.

I was a part of the Impilo Phambili public health team, and we had the amazing opportunity to prepare and conduct health and nutrition workshops for the people living in the poorest areas of the local townships.  Education and knowledge are truly the most precious gifts to give to somebody, and I was honored to be able to share vital information with the kind, welcoming people of Nyanga and Khayelitsha.  Looking back on it, I know that these people taught me more than I could ever teach them.  I was exposed to an entirely new culture and got to experience life away from my safe home in the United States.
It’s so important to challenge yourself and break out of your comfort zone.  I have done things here in Cape Town that I would never even dream about 2 years ago.  I rode an elephant, bungee jumped from the world’s highest bridge, surfed, dove with great white sharks, and learned how to independently navigate a large city.  I am returning home with a full heart and a new air of confidence because I trust that after this experience, I can do anything.  Thank you, VAC staff, for always assisting and challenging me when I needed it most.  You provided me with an experience of a lifetime, and I will never forget the friends I made and the adventures I had here in the most beautiful city in the world!