Dylan Flannery
Oregon, USA

Cape Town, South Africa. This is where I spent 3 months having the best time of my life this past summer. On my way to Cape Town in June, I had no idea what would be in store for me. The many adventures, beautiful scenery, African culture, friends and family, work experience and amount of self reliance that I gained from this experience is far more then what I ever could have asked for. Once in Cape Town it took me awhile, like all others, to become one with the land and people and not just another tourist (easiest way to make friends is to not look like your not from there). Once acquainted with the culture and the way people think and act it became much easier to think of my new home as an actual home, not just the most beautiful place on earth that I’m visiting for a time.

Abseiling off Table Mountain

My internship placement was perfect for me, and the cultural experience I gained through it made my time there worthwhile. I worked with a program named Young in Prison (or YiP for short) and in the program I worked with post release prisoners who had spent time in prison from anywhere between 1 to 15 years. When I first started working for this program it was a challenge to gain the trust of the participants who struggled with development skills after spending most of their early years in gang infested, violent and emotionally scaring situations to the extent that they really don’t know right from wrong and only concern is staying alive. The more time I spent with the participants, the more that they opened up to me and showed me the way of Africa. I saw things that most foreigners in Cape Town never such an inner township life. I met the families of the men I was working with and was welcomed in to share meals with them. I wouldn’t change a thing for the amount of behind the scene culture that I experienced as well as the friends I gained.

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VAC gave me this experience that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. Sure, I could have just traveled to South Africa and not be prepared for anything, not know anybody and not have a job, but who would want to do that? VAC gave me more opportunities then I could ask for. Finding me an internship and giving me a chance to work with real people in the real African culture and giving me the job experience that I desired is just one of the things that VAC provided for me. Placing me in a house that had 16 other individuals of all different cultures such as Germans, French, Dutch, East coast Americans and Chinese was another success of working with VAC in giving me the most diverse living experience that I could ask for. Being able to do activities every Friday with my fellow VAC family led me to areas that I would never have gotten to without their help and providing me with background information of Africa kept me safe and in good hands. Cape Town is a place where life opportunities and adventure is around every corner and my life wouldn’t be the same without my experience there with VAC.

Thank you VAC staff for the commitment that you provided to me and showing me the most beautiful country in the world in a way that never would of happened with out your help. Oh, and go Ducks!

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