Sophia Zanardo

Illinois, USA


Sophia joined the VACorps Gap Year Program from January to March 2024 and participated in a Human Rights Law Internship.

Cape Town was my dream internship destination because of its natural beauty and unique history. As a Human Rights intern, being able to study injustice in a country that has significant economic and racial inequality has been conducive to my understanding of human rights on a global level. I interned for Dr. Kelly Stone, a human rights lawyer and consultant, and was able to assist her in projects concerning the reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals, women in policing, and the governance of AI. These projects spanned a wide variety of topics and addressed different skill sets to give me a sense of the day-to-day of human rights work in South Africa and abroad. My internship has been invaluable to my personal development, as well as to ascertaining what I will study in university.

Besides my internship, Cape Town’s diversity and beauty have allowed me to dive into a new culture and absorb a new way of life. What I have learned from exploring the city has given me just as much as my internship. Exploring Khayelitsha during orientation week, planning my own trip to Robben Island, and attending the weekly culture series led by VACorps has added to my understanding of South Africa’s past and present. Some of my other Cape Town favorites include Sonder Café, Clifton 4th beach, the Old Biscuit Mill market, the Oranjezicht City Farm Market, Groot Constantia, and Ferdinando’s Pizza. Cape Town is a beautiful city with so much culture to absorb, history to learn from, and fun to have!