Kaja Erle

Freiburg, Germany


Kaja joined the VACorps program from January to March 2024 as part of her GAP year, and participated in a human rights law internship. 

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I came to Cape Town, leaving Europe for the first time on my own. I stayed here for a little more than two months, interning for the Human Rights Consultant. My internship was remote, which enabled me to explore the city and the Cape region, giving me glimpses of its beautiful nature, cultural diversity, and the many charming cafés that Observatory is home to.

During my internship, I worked on human rights-related issues. Staying in South Africa offered me a unique perspective, as it is the country with the highest inequality in the world, which is visible in Cape Town where the very richest live next to people who have nothing. What I really appreciated about my internship is that I worked on issues which I could actually witness here, offering me more practical perspectives. I had the opportunity to write various assessments and reports. One that particularly stuck with me was a response to the UN regarding what is missing concerning their global governance program of AI with a focus on the Global South, which I collaborated on with the other interns working for Kelly.

Cape Town is a beautiful city with so much to explore, and two months have almost not been enough. There are so many beaches to visit, mountains to climb, animals to see, foods to try, and cultures and histories to learn about. During the orientation week, VACorps took us to the township Khayelitsha, where locals gave us a tour, offering us insight into life in the township. Through weekly cultural sessions and a self-planned trip to Robben Island, I had the opportunity to learn more about South Africa’s history and cultures.

As I prepare to return home, what I will miss most are the gorgeous natural surroundings of the city, the many sunny days, and the beautiful people that I have met on my journey. VACorps offered me a perfect mix of structure, support and freedom, providing many opportunities to connect with other people, explore the city together, and a team of incredible support staff on which I always felt I could rely.