Laila Wheeler

California, USA

Laila Wheeler is studying Public Affairs, Education, and Sociology at the University of California Los Angeles. She participated in a human rights internship from June – August of 2023.

Connect with me on LinkedIn

“Traveling to Cape Town was genuinely the most transformative experience of my life thus far. From exploring new environments to going on exhilarating adventures, nothing compares to the amazing community of people who welcomed us with open arms. Despite being in a foreign country, the VACorps staff, especially Kus and Kholi, made me and other interns feel at home, safe, and protected. VACorps staff supported us from the very beginning when we arrived at the airport and on our first internship day to the very end. The weekly activities allowed me to see more of Cape Town and travel to spectacular places like Muizenburg, Hout Bay, wine farms, and more. I truly tested my limits countless times by trying new things like bungy jumping, surfing, climbing Table Mountain, and crawling through caves — to name the least. Cape Town has the most beautiful natural wonders I’d ever seen and I felt so attuned to nature in a way that’s quite indescribable. While it was great to travel to other parts of Cape Town, there was certainly beauty in our own backyard of Observatory as well. The lively community is filled with fun people to connect with, fashionable thrift stores, and delicious food, especially Ivy’s Kitchen! I would advise you not to pass Obs up because there are a lot of hidden treasures as long as you’re open to finding them.

“If I were to offer any piece of advice, I’d highly recommend seeing all of Cape Town. While you can limit yourself to Camps Bay, Constantia, the central business district, and all the fancy beach cities, they only tell half the story of a multifaceted city and country. Visiting the townships and building genuine connections with locals who are living a reality that is often ignored by “tourists” can broaden your perspective on life. My favorite memory in Cape Town was playing with the sweet kids from the Bathande Children’s Reading Club in Khayelitsha created by Kholi. Beauty is everywhere in Cape Town and having the opportunity to become culturally immersed in this wonderful city and country is something I’ll never forget.

“In just two months, a place almost 10,000 miles away from home began to feel just like home.”