Chiara Draghi

I followed VAC on facebook for about a year before I contacted anyone. I had been searching for ways to travel and volunteer and VAC was one of the few reputable organizations that I found. Every week the pictures of their social activities would pop up, and I would turn green with envy. When I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to return to South Africa (I’m from Johannesburg, but have lived in Boston for most of my life), I knew that this was my chance to discover Cape Town on my terms. I worked with a small NGO in Limpopo province (in northern South Africa) for five weeks before coming to Cape Town. While there, I talked with Vanessa almost every week, trying to decide on the perfect placement. I came over to do a practicum for my master’s degree and I wanted to be able to compare my work in Limpopo (very rural, resource poor, and an entirely different climate – both regarding weather and politics) with a similar NGO in Cape Town (relatively developed, and where “things just work better” as a colleague told me). Through a back and forth with Vanessa over terrible Skype connections, I finally made a video message in which I explained exactly what I was looking to do – and VAC took that video to my placement site and showed them. In a sense they had met me before I even landed in Cape Town!

My placement was amazing, and I learned more than I could have ever hoped for. Living in Obs puts you right in the middle of everything and we never had a dull night or day. I swear, I could live in Cape Town for years and still not have seen or done half of the things here. Ivy’s Xhosa lessons were so much fun, and I was able to compare a little bit of Xhosa language and culture with what I had experienced in Limpopo (mostly northern Sotho and Tsonga). The Friday “VACtivities” were a lot of fun, and always allowed ample time to bond with my fellow volunteers. I met truly wonderful people in my time with VAC and made what I am sure will be lifelong friendships. Thank you VAC team for helping me find my way in the Mother City, I hope to see you all again very soon!