VACORPS interns

Meet the VACorps Alumni Ambassadors!

There is no better way to learn about our program than to connect with past VACorps interns. If one of our ambassadors happens to be studying at the same school or living in the same city as you, why not reach out and meet for coffee? If you cannot find someone in close proximity, why not connect via social media, or better yet, give them a call!  Our Ambassadors have all recently participated in the VACorps internship program and will happily answer your questions and offer advice and recommendations.

Gregory Elbel, Switzerland

Universitat Basel ’20

Gregory joined VACorps in January 2019 and participated in a Psychology internship. He is studying a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

“When I saw that VACorps offered psychology internships in Cape Town I didn’t hesitate to apply. South Africa and especially Cape Town have been on my travel wishlist for a while and the opportunity to live and work here seemed like a great opportunity to me. The application process was easy and quick, a day after my application I had already had my first phone call and things were falling into place quickly.

Cape Town is a very vibrant city and there’s always so a lot going on. I was never bored, and I always had plans about which adventure I wanted to go on next. I love how in Cape Town you find beautiful and calm places like the Kirstenbosch Gardens and nature reserves like Table Mountain, while just a quick ride away you can spend your time in a busy city.
I stayed in Cape Town for 3 months and met so many nice people that I hope to stay in contact with. Many of us immediately bonded and we became like a big family going on hikes, adventures and to countless parties together.

It took me some time to get adjusted to the South African lifestyle and even though I have been traveling quite a bit during the past years, I experienced more of a culture shock than I expected. South Africa isn’t comparable to any of the other countries I’ve been to, it sure is something special. It might take some time to get used to public transportation not being very reliable and spending up to an hour waiting at the train station for the train, or to get used to not being able to walk home alone at night and having to take an Uber anywhere – but after a bit of an adjustment period I think everyone would agree that Cape Town is a beautiful place to live. And it’s Africa after all, what better place to become a bit more relaxed about everyday things and not being stressed out all the time?

I worked in a psychiatric hospital where I got to work and interact with various kinds of patients and staff, and I’ve learned a lot about psychotherapy and occupational therapy, things that I will happily take back home and use in my further career. My supervisor and the staff at my internship site were very helpful and always there for me whenever I needed something or wanted or needed to talk about something in particular. I really was a part of the team, as I was fully included in the daily work at the clinic.

The VACorps staff is always there to help and they do such a great job in providing us with all the information we need and seek, and the trips and activities organized by VACorps have always been a highlight of my week. Driving to an unknown place on a bus filled with people you love has always sparked great feelings in me. The trips to Cederberg, the Garden Route and especially Mozambique have been absolutely stunning, and I will definitely not regret going on those amazing adventures.

I think what I will miss the most is to see and do something new each weekend and the amazing people I have met during my time here in Cape Town. Anyone coming to Cape Town, come here with an open mind, be ready to face challenges, learn a lot about a foreign culture and prepare yourself to fall in love with a great city and its great people. You will not want to leave again!

Coming to Cape Town and interning with VACorps has been absolutely great and I’m happy I chose to come here. An adventure of a lifetime!”

Let us know
if you would like to connect with Gregory!” 

Counseling Internships South Africa

Emily Hayhurst, USA

Allegheny College ’20

Emily is from California and joined VACorps in January 2019 to participate in a communications and human rights internship.  She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in communications and will be graduating in 2020.

“Interning in Cape Town provided me with such a unique opportunity to gain both professional experience and the chance to explore a completely new place- one I’m not sure I ever would’ve made it to without this program. By far my favorite part of my abroad experience was all of the trips VACorp took us on, from different places in Cape Town each Friday to bigger trips like Cederberg and MozKruger. It was really nice to visit so many places without having to worry about the logistics of getting there and figuring out what to do once we got there. I am also super grateful that this trip pushed me outside of my comfort zone in so many ways because I feel much more prepared to face the world once I graduate college. I absolutely loved my experience in South Africa and I wish I could do it all again!” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Emily!

Meryem Duygu Acikalin, Turkey

Koc University (Istanbul) ’19

Duygu joined VACorps in February 2019 and participated in a winemaking internship.   She is studying Chemical and Biological Engineering with a double major in Industrial engineering at Koc University in Istanbul and will be graduating this year.

“I came to Cape Town just after my graduation, to do the one thing that I want to do most in life: wine. I always thought learning how to make wine is such a timeless, natural knowledge and acquiring natural knowledge is my personal passion. Here I mean learning straight from plants, natural processes, and animals remind us how everything is a mimicry of the pure existence, and it makes me feel more connected with the earth and therefore with myself. Luckily enough, that is what I managed to find down here. I worked with a natural winemaker, a true magician I would say, who lets the grapes be themselves and just helping them to express their identities in the form of wine, through adding a lot of passion and creativity to the bottle. I’ll never forget how Mphumi’s wine turned everyone tasting them, regardless of who they are, to humble humans enjoying what nature had given to us, and how a creative mind transformed it. I’ll never stop being inspired by what I’ve witnessed during my internship here.  And the city of Cape Town, where you can meet with countless people from different walks of life, one of the most alive cities I’ve ever been to. In my experience, this city is not about buildings from hundreds of years ago; not because it doesn’t have a history, it indeed has one of the most interesting history lines I’ve ever read, but still, this city is about today. You need to actively be alive to keep with the pace of this city, if you get too relaxed on the streets you’ll probably attract some trouble, and if you get too tight you’ll miss all the beauty and fun Cape Town has to offer. I love this mode of living. Thanks a lot to VAC for making the journey even more amazing, by making us experience the city, country, and life here closer than we could’ve ever managed to. VAC staff have and will always be there to help you any way they can and share your journey, and they’re awesome people to spend time with!” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Duygu!

Cinthya Vasquez, Mexico

Practicing Corporate Lawyer

Cinthya joined VACorps in January 2019 and participated in an International Trade Law Internship whilst in Cape Town.   She is a currently a practicing corporate lawyer specializing in business, trade and tax law.

“I have been in Cape Town for almost 2 months now and I am totally in love with the city and its people. Everyone has been so welcoming, especially at my internship. They all welcomed me so well since day one. I am also thankful for my amazing VAC advisor, Carmen, she has been great in every way! The vibe in this city is so different from the rest, sure it has its problems but it is a city that really makes you fall in love with it, so many things to do, so many places to visit. When I was looking for a place to do my internship I started looking in Europe because it was something familiar for me since I did my LLM there, then somehow I found VAC and started looking at what Cape Town had to offer and I did not think it twice to apply! It was something totally new for me, really far from home (Mexico), it was just out of my comfort zone, I did not know anyone here but I decided to take the risk and I do not regret it! So much culture and amazing people in one place!! Love it and I will miss so much!” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Cinthya!

Law Internships in South frica

Sophia Caputo, USA

Mercy College, NYC (’20)

Sophia joined VACorps in January 2019 and participated in a Finance and Entrepreneurship Internship.   She is currently studying a degree in Business Admin in Finance at Mercy College in New York.

Moving to South Africa for 3 months was not something I deliberately set out to do; last summer when I started looking into studying abroad, I realized my school didn’t have any options that I truly was interested in and began searching for alternatives. I stumbled upon some “Intern Abroad” companies and somehow came across VAC – and that’s when I began to fall in love with the idea of venturing to Cape Town (especially after my 40-minute phone call with Oliver). Most of my friends decided to study abroad together in larger groups, all in Europe, but I didn’t want to country hop every weekend and I didn’t want to already know everyone prior to arriving. I wanted a unique experience that would make me a bit uncomfortable at times because when you go beyond your comfort zone, amazing things can happen. The experience I gained at my internship site was fantastic – I worked for Startupbootcamp AfriTech, a startup accelerator that assists FinTech startups across the continent in meeting investors, mentors, and potential partners, as well as Uprise. Africa, South Africa’s first equity crowdfunding platform. The amount of responsibility and ownership I was given was a bit astonishing to me; as a 19 (now 20) year old, there was no concern or thought given to my age – all that mattered was the quality of the work I was doing. I loved my coworkers and already miss rocking up to work every morning.
I think that overall the best part of VAC and the best part about South Africa, in general, is meeting so many different people. In a program like VAC or using a company like Rent-A-Room for housing, you will meet people from literally all over (some of my best mates here are from the Netherlands and some live 40 minutes away from me back in the States) and honestly make some longtime friends (which is great if you love to travel!). I lived in 197 Lower Main, the house with 17 people, and I would definitely recommend living there if you want to feel like you’re part of a family (fair warning, if you like it quiet then maybe a different house would suit you better). The trek to work was a bit far (I worked near the V&A Waterfront), but it was worth it – life in Obs is great; there’s a variety of food options, bars, etc.
If you’re coming to intern with VAC, maximize your time in Cape Town, in South Africa….there is so much to see and do and experience. I was only here for 3 months but I desperately wish it was longer. I also went on the MozKruger trip, which was INCREDIBLE. Mozambique is a hidden gem and the only way you will get to truly experience it is with the crew from VAC (I only say this because it would be so difficult and expensive without Sean & Jon (and Kim & Carmen!!!)…also, it wouldn’t be as fun). 100% get scuba certified and dive as many times as possible in Mozambique – no one else will have the same experience as you. I have seen some amazing Instagram posts showing off weekend away in Europe or astonishing Spring Break trips…but trust me, they can’t compare to Mozambique (or Kruger!!! We saw baby elephants and rhinos and cheetahs…AHHHH so cool!)

If you want to have a different experience and are up for an adventure (and are good when it comes to going with the flow), then VAC is perfect for you


Let us know if you would like to connect with Sophia!

Business and finance internships in South Africa

Laura Roantree, USA

Sacred Heart University (’20)

Laura joined VACorps in January 2019 and participated in a Medical Internship whilst she was in Cape Town.  Town.   She is studying a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“I chose Cape Town because it was a place I wanted to be for a long time seeing it is so far, not only this but I wanted to immerse myself within the multitude of different cultures that would surround me. I decided to do an internship to gain further experience in my field of study; nursing. My internship at Heideveld health clinic has taught me so many different skills I would never have a chance to practice in the US. What I loved the most about Cape Town was meeting so many new people from all over the world, whether they were apart of VACorps or not. This is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been, and I was able to explore and adventure on top of learning new skills. I always loved how Cape Town provides endless adventures to take part in, such as hiking, surfing, etc. I’ve made so many lifelong friendships here which is what makes it so sad to leave. VACorps did a great job in introducing each of the intern groups and setting up planned events. I loved how every Friday there was always something new and exciting planned out for us and more people to meet as we arrived at these excursions. Furthermore, after participating in the Mozambique trip, I was able to create more friendships with people I had yet to meet. Not only this but also I was able to adventure more and discover an entirely different part of Africa, the entire experience was surreal; from scuba diving to going on my first safari, there was never a dull day. I will definitely miss Cape Town and all it has to offer but I will be back soon! I am so grateful to have taken part in this opportunity to experience various different cultures and health care systems. I will be able to take this knowledge back to the US with me to further enhance my nursing studies. I am also so grateful for the VACorps staff for making it so easy to adjust to the different lifestyle and few culture shocks.” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Laura!

Aysegül Özkan, Germany

Medical School Berlin (’20)

Aysegül is studying a Bachelor of Science, Psychology at Medical School Berlin.  She joined the VACorps Program in 2018 and completed a psychology internship. She had this to say about her experience:

“I came to Cape Town to receive some answers to essential questions that I could never ever get at the place that I call home. I wanted to find myself in a completely different culture and environment with no familiar face in order to figure out how independent I really am. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I am able to be my own, to set boundaries and to master uncomfortable situations in general as a young woman. I have never felt unsafe because I knew that VAC would be there and help me with my concerns and they did!!! I was never homesick during my stay in Cape Town because this place charmed me and made me stronger. My experiences at my internship site were amazing, I managed to develop myself and to improve my communication skills and to get insight into Cape Towns Psychiatric System.

I loved my internship site because I had the opportunity to be very close to the patients and could contribute my knowledge and reflections into the therapeutic process. Moreover, I became more and more self-confident during the two months and I was even able to lead two groups. I thought that I would not be able to do that because of not being a Native English speaker. To be honest, this was my first travel into an English speaking country. All in all, I was very grateful for the opportunities at my internship sites, you just have to be openminded, flexible and brave in order to grow as a person. My supervisor and the staff members were very welcoming and supportive. That internship was the best part of my studies and I know that I have achieved the thing I came for.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Aysegül!

Matthew Rodriguez, USA

University of Tampa (’22)

Matthew joined VACorps in January 2019 as part of his GAP year.  He participated in a Film and Media  Internship in Cape Town and will begin his degree in Sport Management Broadcasting at the University if Tampa in September 2019.

” Along with my journey around the world, I knew I wanted to see more diverse cultures. Coming from New York and traveling to Australia and New Zealand this past year you really get to learn a lot about the different cultures. Cape Town has its up and downs but there’s always new places to see and new things to do. My internship was probably my favorite throughout my journey. From working hands-on with editing films or doing graphic design, I can truly secure what I want to do in the future. Moonsport Tv treated me like family and I thank them for that. My internship being so close, there was always time for new activities. Through Vac with the culture series and Friday excursions, you always are treated like family. Not to mention making new life long friends along the way, No matter how long or short your stay is in Cape Town you will always have a different experience. From going on the garden route trip, which I highly recommend, you truly get to experience a new side of the world. From the people here and my roommates, I’ve learned so much about the different cultures around the world. Everyone has a different story and it makes you want to help those who need it. In the end, this is definitely an opportunity you should  take in life.” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Matthew!

Gap Year Internships in South Africa

Sydney Norvell, USA

Oregon State University (’19)

Sydney joined VACorps in 2019 and participated in an education and public health internship.   She is studying a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Education.

” Cape Town stood out to me when I read up on the public health internship opportunities available. After researching the history of South Africa and the beauty within the country, I couldn’t help but put cape town down as my top pick in interning abroad. Living in Cape Town for three months has provided with me with life long friends, cultural knowledge, adventure, an impactful internship, and a desire to come back. My internship at Ottery Youth Care Centre has changed my perspective of life and will forever have a place in my heart. I want to thank VACorps for providing this internship and helping along the way!” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Sydney!

Anya Shemet, USA

University of Oregon (’20)

Anya joined VACorps in January 2019 and participated in a Social Work and Public Health Internship Cape Town.   She is studying a BA in Psychology, Global Health, and Anthropology

“I originally was not planning on coming to Cape Town but it was recommended to me during my interview and I decided to just take a chance and try it. When I was first paired with my internship I did not think that it was going to be a good fit. I was completely terrified to start work at my internship site, it was so far outside of anything that I was comfortable with and I definitely did not think that I would enjoy it. I ended up learning so much about myself and my field that I would’ve never expected. My time at my internship made me not only a better student but also a better person and it was completely unexpected. My internship transformed from something I was dreading to something it hurts to leave.” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Anya!

Isabelle Maher, USA

The Ohio State University (’19)

Isabelle joined VACorps in 2018 and participated in an O.T Internship in Cape Town.   She is majoring in Psychology at the Ohio State University (graduating May 2019) and intends to pursue her doctorate in Occupational Therapy.

” I fell in love with the idea of coming to Cape Town for an occupational therapy internship, as it is tough to find OT internships without a complete degree. This opportunity combined my passions of traveling, experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, occupational therapy, and most importantly working with children with disabilities. My time at my internship site has been nothing short of amazing! No money or objects can replace the look of joy on a child’s face that you helped create. I have been so happy that my experience has been so hands-on and I have learned so much that I will use in the future. Not only have I learned a lot of occupational therapy skills, but I have learned so much about the culture. The way the school is run is so different than at home and it has been amazing to get to learn about the academics and teaching in Gugulethu. My first and last days at this school were full of emotion and tears from the love I felt while there. The school will always have a very special place in my heart and I am already thinking about when I will be able to return. 

My time in South Africa has absolutely been the best months of my life. Throughout these two months, I have been able to do more than I ever imagined including surfing, scuba diving, hiking, beaching, and exploring various markets and eaten some of the best food ever. The beauty of Cape Town in incomparable to any other place I have ever been. Most important are the friendships and memories that I have created while in Cape Town. People here are so open to meeting new people and are easy to connect with. 

The VACorps staff has been absolutely incredible every second of my time here. The staff were always there to assist whenever I needed and always excited to help. The activities every Friday were an amazing way to bond with the other interns and staff members. The bond I have formed with the staff is indescribable and I look forward to coming back to visit them as soon as possible. I could not be happier with the VACorps program as a whole, my internship experience, and the staff members. I will miss the beauty, culture, and people the most. I have made some of the best memories and relationships in Cape Town that I know will last forever.” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Isabelle!

Corrie Colson, UK

University of East Anglia (’19)

Corrie is studying towards her BA in International Development with Anthropology at the University of East Angelia in Norwich, England.  Her goal is to complete a law conversion degree once she has finished with her undergraduate degree in order to become a human rights lawyer.  She participated in a Human Rights internship in Cape Town in 2018.

“I chose to come to Cape Town because I have always been fascinated by South Africa and I thought it would be the perfect place to do a human rights internship. I learned so much here, not just academically speaking, but I also learned so much about the culture and about myself. Overall I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that I am so much more capable than I thought I was. I’ve gained so much confidence in my own abilities and learned more about my own potential in life. I’ve been in Cape Town for 10 weeks, and I think the best advice I could give a future intern would be to come here with an open mind and be prepared for experiences you never thought you would have. Say yes to things you wouldn’t necessarily ordinarily say yes to, and don’t be afraid to speak to new people. VACorps are so great at looking after us interns, and the weekly VACorps activities are a great way to see more of the country and get more out of your stay here.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Corrie!

Emily Nelson, USA

Minnesota State University (’20)

Emily joined VACorps in January 2019 and participated in an Education and  Social Work Internship.  She is studying Dance at the State University of Minnesota.

“Living in Cape Town for 3 months was the best decision of my life! Every day I learned something new about South Africa and discovered something new about myself. What I love most about Cape Town are all the beautiful views and fun activities it has. From hiking to eating, to shark cage diving, I was never bored. I loved walking out of my home to see the beautiful mountains that I conquered the previous weekend. I interned at St. Michael’s Child and Youth Care Center, where I worked with twenty-five teenage girls who are taken out of their homes for adverse reasons. I learned how easy it is to forget to be grateful for everyday things. I also learned that no matter how much empathy I show, I will never understand what one has gone through. I highly recommend VaCorps because they were always there when I needed something. They provide an excellent orientation to introduce you to areas of Cape town that you need to know. VaCorps provides amazing Friday activities, where I met all of my friends here in Cape Town. The activities allowed me to take a Friday off and go explore Cape Town with my friends. I’m most grateful for the staff at VACorps because they truly care about you and your experience in Cape Town” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Emily!

Janet Mwanyika, Tanzania

University of Minnesota (’18)

Janet completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Minnesota in 2018.  She joined the VACorps program in 2018 and participated in an entrepreneurship internship.

“I chose Cape Town because I had just graduated university and I was looking for my next career move. I was
located in the United States with so many options but I wanted to move back to Africa. More specifically, I was
looking for opportunities in the tech industry and in the startup space. Cape Town was the perfect fit for me. I
chose to do an internship because I was curious about this industry given my corporate experience. I had an itch
and I could not shake it off until I gave this a chance. So I proceeded with an internship before I considered full-time
opportunities. I loved interning in Cape Town because it meant that I was never bored and a plethora of
opportunities in terms of exploring the city and neighboring spaces existed.  I will never forget Demo Day and the Investor Premiere which I spent most of my time at my internship site preparing for. Seeing all the work that we had done come to fruition was purely emotional and so fulfilling. I loved that it became home so quickly. No matter how long you’ve been away from Cape Town, this place grows on you quickly. I will miss the amazing food and the beauty that the city possesses. I stayed for 3 months and my biggest tip for anyone who is considering to come is just DO IT and when you get here, immerse yourself as quickly as you can because time flies. The VACoprs staff were so amazing and helpful & the activities were so well-thought and planned. It was a diverse range of things planned every week. The smooth execution of it all impressed me week in and week out. I love that VACorps staff became a family away from home.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Janet!

Madison Weg, USA

Central Washington University (’19)

Madison is studying public health at the University of Central Washington  She joined the VACorps program in 2019 and participated in a disaster management internship.

 “My time in Cape Town has been an experience I will never forget. I have learned so much about the culture of South Africa, I have met people from all over the world, and I have gained great professional experience that will benefit my future career. My internship site, NSRI Sea Rescue South Africa, was the perfect placement for me. The staff there were all very welcoming and helpful. They allowed me and encouraged me to get involved with the organization in any way possible. I am very thankful that I was able to intern at such a successful and well ran organization. VAC did a great job of finding the perfect internship location that met all my wants and needs. They also did a great job at connecting me with other interns and at making sure we were comfortable and settled in. They did this through orientation, taking us to our first day at our internship, planning weekly activities, and culture series. VAC and NSRI helped in creating this amazing learning experience and for all the wonderful people I have met along the way!”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Madison!

Christina Marcantoni, Italy

University of Padova (’19)

Cristina is studying Psychological and Psychobiological sciences at the University of Padova, Italy.  She joined the VACorps program in 2018 where he participated in a Counseling Internship.

“This experience taught me a lot and surely made me grow as a person. It helped me become aware of how blessed I am to be living in a place where my biggest concerns were “what should I study at university” instead of “do I have food for my children today?”. I personally loved my internship experience: many of the stories I heard were really sad and extremely complicated, and sometimes I felt like I could not be of any help, but then I realized that to those people just the fact of having someone who listens to them means a lot! Many of the clients of the shelter have never been listened to by anybody, not even from their parents. I suggest to anyone who is thinking to come to Cape Town for an internship to do it, I promise it will be worth it.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Cristina!

Max Sumner, USA

University of Georgia (’20)

Max is currently studying a B.S in Science, Biology/Psychology  (pre-med) at the University of Georgia.  He joined the VACorps program in 2018 and participated in a medical internship.

“My internship provided an amazing experience which opened up a world of adventure, learning, and of connections which I would not be able to experience elsewhere. Coming to Cape Town allowed me to indulge in an experience which allowed me to contribute and learn from a community in a way that is unmatched throughout the world.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Max!

Neha Shankar, India

Northeastern University (’18)

Neha joined the VACorps Program in 2018 where she participated in a medical internship. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science (pre-med) in 2018.

“I really enjoyed my medical internship working at Retreat Community Health Centre. I was able to circulate through the different departments at the clinic including trauma, emergency, maternity, obstetrics, chronic disease etc. I was also able to watch and assist with medical emergencies and my personal highlight at my internship site was being able to watch and assist with deliveries and newborn check-ups. I was here for a total of eight weeks and loved every minute of it. I will definitely miss all of the amazing people that I’ve met here and lived with so close together in Obs. One of my favorite things that I did here was the Garden Route trip where I got to walk with African elephants and bungee jump off of the worlds highest bungee bridge. Throughout my entire stay here, the VAC staff was always very helpful and planned amazing weekly activities for us. I am most grateful for the VAC program for my internship placement and for enabling me to meet such amazing friends here.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Neha!

Martin Pedersen, Denmark

Aalborg University, Copenhagen (’19)

Martin completed his Masters in Engineering and Architecture at the University of Aarlborg in 2018. He joined the VACorps Program in 2018, with Ida his partner, and participated in an Architecture Internship.

“I had no knowledge about Cape Town and the 2 main criteria I had for choosing Cape Town is that both Ida and I could find an internship and has English as a language. Cape Town was perfect for us since it has so much to offer and we have not had the same weekend twice! Hikes, rugby, scenery, and biltong are some of the highlights I have had living here. Will probably miss the relaxed atmosphere a lot even though it can be quite a pain some times. I enjoyed doing the activities with VACorps and the opportunity to meet new people.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Martin!

Courtney Romatz, USA

Northern Michigan University (’19)

Courtney joined the program in 2018 and participated in an Occupational Therapy Internship. Courtney is Studying a Bachelor of Sports Science Degree at Northern Michigan University (graduating December 2019).  After completion of her Bachelor’s Degree, she plans to do her masters in Occupational Therapy.

“I have always wanted to travel to Africa, so when I was looking into VACorps this seemed like a great opportunity to do so. I was extremely excited but also a little scared to come here alone, but it has been the best decision of my
life. The thing that I love most about being an intern here is the endless opportunities you are given, that you
wouldn’t have the chance to do anywhere else. All the kids at the hospital I interned at lightened up my day and
gave me the confidence to know that I have chosen the correct career path. I loved getting hands on experience with them and seeing them grow, while also learning more about their culture. It was easy to feel at home here because everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I have learned to say yes to as many opportunities as possible but also that saying no is okay, to take chances, how to thrive on my own, and how to take a real quick shower. Most importantly I have grown so much both personally and professionally. Coming to Cape Town and then being here was overwhelming at times, but the staff at VACorps was there to help in any way possible. Since coming to Cape Town. I have gained a much greater appreciation for different cultures and how traveling the world teaches you more than anything else possibly can. I can honestly say these past eight weeks have been some of the best of my life and I am forever grateful for the opportunities VAC gave me! I’ll never forget all the great adventures and traveling I got to do here, the sunrises/sunsets, and most importantly all the amazing people I’ve met and the friendships made. I can’t wait to be back someday!”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Courtney!

Jana Safran, USA

Dickenson College (’19)

Jana is studying a B.A. in Sociology at Dickenson College in Carlisle PA. She joined the VACorps program in 2018, and participated in a Public Health Internship.

“I absolutely loved my time in Cape Town as a VACorps intern- I would do it over and over again in a heartbeat! During my time here, I did a Public Health internship where I got to see and work on the behind the scenes logistics of building a brand new TB research and intervention program. I learned so much from the work that I got to do as well as from my co-workers. When I wasn’t at work, I could often be found on one of the many breathtaking hikes surrounding Cape Town, surfing, enjoying a warm cup of coffee, and watching sunsets with my friends. I am so grateful for all of the support that the VAC staff offered me during my time here including the weekly VAC activities, the meal plan, and just always being available to talk. This was an amazing opportunity to do an internship abroad and explore South Africa. I could not have asked for a better summer!’

Let us know if you would like to connect with Jana!

Public Health Internships in South Africa

Virginia Detrick, USA

North Carolina State University (’19)

Virginia is studying Civil Engineering at North Carolina State University (graduating May 2019). She joined the VACorps Program in 2018 and participated in an environmental internship.

” My internship really showed me how passionate I was about connecting to nature and helping to conserve the environment. The people at my site truly demonstrated their knowledge and commitment to educating youth about improving the environment, which helped me develop more of an idea of what I would like to do career-wise. In regards to the VACorps family, I think that good people and good conversation really make an experience; my time here was absolutely amazing thanks to all of the people that I met. I was in Cape Town for 12 weeks and definitely recommend staying for as long as possible because it starts to feel like home.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Virginia!

VACorps Program Ambassador - Virginia Detrick

Ashley Huggins, USA

University of Georgia (’20)

Ashley is studying her B.S. in Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia.  She joined the VACorps program in 2018 and participated in a Medical Internship

“Cape Town is an amazing city unlike any other. No matter where you are in the city, you can look up to the mountains and know you are home. My time in Cape Town has shown me qualities about myself that I did not know I had in me. I would have never believed it was possible to summit one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, but I did it. I would have never believed I would encounter so many different people and histories, but I did. I would have never thought I could love a place so much for only being here such a short amount of time, but I do. VACorps is an awesome program that allows adventurous students to go abroad while still feeling right at home. The friendships that I have made on this trip will last a lifetime. This city is amazing and I believe everyone should experience it!”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Ashley!

Brendan Kouns, USA

The University of Texas at Dallas (’20)

Brendon is studying a B.S. in Healthcare Management at the University of Texas at Dallas (graduating in 2020).  He joined the VACorps program in 2018 where he participated in a healthcare internship.

” I knew what I wanted before I came to South Africa and I wasn’t let down with what I received. This experience broadened my view on healthcare systems in other countries and the realities that are faced in those specific systems. The individuals at the hospital I worked at were charismatic and responsible, which are great qualities to have in a nurse or healthcare provider. I look forward to sharing the information I gained from this adventure and hopefully help others in my own country. I will always remember the friends I made in Cape Town through this program and the impact they had on my life. I can say with 100 percent certainty that if you decide to take part in this program, you will not be disappointed.” 

Let us know if you would like to connect with Brendan!

Jackie Berger, USA

University of Michigan (’19)

“From the moment I got off the plane and grabbed my bags, I was greeted with a network of support that helped me make the transition to Capetonian life. It was a very easy transition to make given the friendly atmosphere of Cape Town. The people here are some of the loveliest and nicest people you will ever meet!

Professionally speaking, VAC did a phenomenal job providing support and answering questions about my internship. I was placed in a journalism internship, which allowed me to not only learn more about the journalism field but also explore the many different parts of the Cape Peninsula. I learned a great deal about the lifestyles of native Capetonians from those living the City Centre all the way to the outskirts of the townships. There was certainly no better way to learn about Cape Town than by going out and exploring, and with my internship, I was able to do that every single day!

Cape Town is a magical place that houses any adventurer’s hopes and desires. Between three peaks, two oceans, countless Winelands, and incredible wildlife, you will never be bored visiting this fantastic city. I promise you this place will change your life forever. Doing VACorps was the best decision I have ever made. I’m already planning my return trip. See you soon Cape Town!”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Jackie!

VACorps Program Ambassador, Jackie Berger

Savannah Phillips, USA

University of Georgia (’18)

Savannah has recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She participated in the VACorps program in 2018.

“I had a couple of friends back home who had previously participated in the VACorps program and had recommended it to me as a really great program for Pre-Health intent. What I didn’t realize is how much Cape Town, the people, the culture, and the VACorps staff would help change my life. I feel like this experience was not only a beneficial, but a necessary component in my personal journey to professional, social, cultural, and personal maturity. Learning how to live in a country/city other than your home creates a sense of global awareness and recognition of personal privileges that I feel every human needs to develop at some point. 

The VACorps staff are amazing, and they create such a great framework for you to hit the ground running in Cape Town. They provide all the resources and support that you need so there is no need to worry about anything. Someone always has your back no matter what it is. All of the staff genuinely care about the students and want you to be in an environment where you are safe. Even more so, they want you to be in an environment where you are learning and growing as a person…and they will do whatever possible to help you get to where you need to be. 

If I had any advice to potential interns I would say by all means you gotta do this program!! I would also strongly emphasize the importance of self-awareness to future interns. By this, I mean recognizing your status as a visitor, recognize your privilege, and come with a disposition of learning and service. You will make life-long friends and memories here, and will learn an immense amount about different places in the world just by interacting, and enjoying the company of these new friends.”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Savannah!

Kayla Agan, USA

University of Georgia (’19)

Kayla is studying marketing at the University of Georgia (graduating 2019).  She joined the VACorps program in 2018 and participated in a marketing internship in Cape Town.

 “Living in South Africa versus visiting Europe or somewhere closer is a major culture shock and requires more than a small vacation to fully understand the various aspects of it. Cape Town truly is a beautiful place and worth every second you can spend here. The longer you can stay – do it. From the minute I got to Cape Town VACorps has been a huge help in the transition, starting from airport services, walking tours, and my favorite – the bus tour.  Last, I loved my internship site! Thank you for an awesome experience VAC and I wish I could stay longer!”

Let us know if you would like to connect with Kayla!