MY EXPERIENCE VOLUNTEERING IN SOUTH AFRICA- CAPE TOWN ON A VOLUNTEER MZANSI AFRIKA PROGRAMME – DALLAS RICE
South Africa, nothing but jungle and desert. Where people walk around naked carrying spears and hunt lions and buffalo, is probably what most African Americans in the United States would say Africa is like. Before I came people would tell me that I would have fun living in luxury but other people would tell me to be cautious of the mosquitoes and Ebola, to bring clothes for warmth because it’ll be hot, to be sure I rode an elephant or something. Even after I’ve been told all I was told and I saw what I saw on tv I still was able to ignore all of it and open my mind and clear my expectations completely and overall I think this made my transition butter smooth. The part of the experience I was most nervous about was the plane ride because I’d never been on a plane before but even after I sat on the plane those butterflies took off before the actual plane did. When we began flying over to Cape Town, South Africa on my first international volunteer abroad programme, I was astonished at how beautiful it was, I almost cried. I just couldn’t believe I’ve come this far, that I was seeing what I was seeing and that I was about to spend the next two months there. After the plane touched down, I was pretty relaxed, didn’t have any feelings one way or another and was just ready to meet Chantel our international volunteer programme director. All I kept thinking was “short brown lady, short brown lady, short brown lady” because that’s how she had been described to us, plus it was funny. Sometime past and some bags were lost and before we knew it, Chantel, our international volunteer programme director appeared like she ascended from the heavens. There was excitement and confusion and some waiting then we finally left the airport. Again, I was amazed at the beauty of Cape Town- South Africa, the beauty of the country that I was doing my international volunteer programme in. I was taking pictures and videos the whole way into ocean view the community in which I would be living within a host family in and doing my international programme. Going into ocean view and meeting my host family was never really that hard and I wasn’t really nervous about it because no.1 I lived in a similar neighborhood back home and no.2 Chantel was so nice and I just felt really comfortable with any decision she had made. My host family was perfect, first time meeting them was nice and they were very welcoming, and I honestly couldn’t ask for a better family to live with. My host mom cooked every day and night and the dad was so wise and the sister was overall gangster, but best of all everyone was CHILL. My host family suited my character completely. I had the most chilled family of my team mates on the same international volunteer programme and I loved it. Everything was going well with my host family and in the meantime my volunteer placement project was a primary school. This is where the real volunteer work experience happened. I didn’t like kids, but the teachers were very welcoming and though it was tough. I found my place and worked where I needed to and helped when help was needed. When school was on holiday, I worked at a place called the Open Door. It really wasn’t bad at all. I learned a lot in those 2 weeks than I did in the whole trip. And it was kind of good for me because I don’t like being in front, I don’t like being in the spotlight so being there and being forced to do so really took me out of my comfort zone and made me recreate myself and made me think differently. Working at open-door was tough which made going back to the primary school easier. The kids at school were definitely harder to work with though because you are working with almost 40 different personalities at once and you have to cater to each student differently and working at the school made me gain a huge respect for teachers. The touristic activities Chantel arranged for us on the weekends to explore and see more of Cape Town- South Africa and our one on one talks went well, and I feel that it helped us unpack new experiences and new thoughts every week. It was a nice way to kind of, breathe after a week’s work and continue on during the week. Chantel our international volunteer programme director and everything she did was perfect. Most times people just wing it, but she had everything planned out and if something didn’t work out there was a backup and even the backup was good. Overall everything on my experience was perfect. And I’d do it again and tell other people they should do it as well. My family was great my team was great and everyone I worked with was great. In all honesty being in Africa and doing an international volunteer programme in Cape Town South Africa was nice but that just sounds cool. It’s really about the people I was with in Cape Town on my international volunteer programme and what I was doing that really made my volunteer experience and that’s what I really care about.