Kristin Cole — York
Pennsylvania , USA

“Yesterday one of the new interns asked me what my favorite thing has been in Cape Town, and honestly, I could not answer. Everything has been my favorite thing, from my visits to Kruger National Park and the Garden Route, to climbing Table Mountain, to singing the national anthem (in all four languages!) with one of my senior girls at my last assembly at Cape Town High School–and the alto part, no less. I enjoyed the train–as slow, smelly, and crowded as it is, I had so many chance conversations with locals and visitors that I otherwise would have missed, and I loved walking up the hill to my high school into what felt like the mountain’s embrace. Personally and professionally, this has been an extremely engaging and fulfilling three months.

“I can safely say that my students and I developed a quick bond from the first day that I met them. The school system here emphasizes a fierce discipline, much more like an urban school in the United States than the suburban high school where I completed the first part of my student teaching. Some of them saw me as the easy teacher in comparison with my mentor teacher, and all of them were initially confused by the activities I designed for them that veered from a lecture format. One of my greatest moments was when I gave the seniors a carousel activity, and my mentor teacher turned to me and said, “Look at them! Each one of them is engaged in the work.” I actually found it easy to engage all of my students, that they were eager for discussion and clarity. I even named them, because I name everything I love: my grade 9s were my Big Cats, and I was Chief Cat Herder; my grade 10s were my Babies, because they were always so easy to teach and so eager to learn; my grade 11s were my Underdogs, because they received more criticism than they deserved; and my grade 12s were my Gold Stars, because they so easily slipped into intellectual, thoughtful discussion when given the opportunity.

“I have been fascinated with South Africa and Cape Town for over 20 years, and Nelson Mandela is in my estimation one of the greatest men who has ever lived. Thus, coming here was the fulfillment of a bucket list goal that I’ve had since Apartheid ended. The wonderful surprise of my internship and my visit here is that everything exceeded all of my expectations. I find myself feeling at once fulfilled and also eager to return one day to the Mother City’s embrace. She has held me very close and dear.

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Meet past participants:

Hannah Choe, New Jersey, USA (2022)

Hannah joined the VACorps Program in January 2022 as part of her GAP year and participated in an education internship at a local school. “I chose Cape Town to be my home for three […]

Scott Beames, California, USA (2022)

Scott joined the VACorps Program in March 2022 as part of his GAP year and participated in an education internship at a local school.  “I chose to come to Cape Town because of the […]

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