Alumni Spotlight: Elysia Hunter


Elysia is a new but keen traveller who loves meeting new people and learning more about the world.

Why did you choose this program?

I have previous experience working with kids, tutoring and coaching. Being able to motivate and inspire a child is something I love to do and find really rewarding and worthwhile. The opportunity to do this in a place where poverty is high and kids need inspiration the most therefore massively appealed to me.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provider ensured I submitted the relevant forms/ DBS checks / visa / installments leading up to my trip, and answered any queries I had in the lead up to the big day. I had to organise flights on my own - essentially you’re told exactly what you need to do; it’s just following instructions and being strict with saving and fundraising the money.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

It’s important to go in with an open, culturally sensitive mindset. For me, at first, it was a shock transitioning to the ‘African’ way of doing things compared to the British way, and adjusting to the chaos, but you learn to adapt and even embrace it. It’s also important to stay positive, as some days you will feel more impactful than others with misbehaving kids and unstoppable difficult situations, but you are ultimately making a positive difference and the kids and community really appreciate that.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Average day Monday- Friday: being taken to project for 9am, so getting up at 7:30am. You do 2 lessons with the kids which you would’ve planned and organized with your team prior, one English and one maths-based (both very fun and interactive with the younger ages). You will do 30 minutes ‘circle-time,’ singing nursery songs helping to improve the kids English, and also 15 minutes of story-time. Then an afternoon of free-play and games until pick-up at around 3pm.

You’d then usually do 30 minutes of planning for the next day (writing the task in the kids workbooks) and spend at least 1 hour a week planning for the next weeks lessons. Dinners at 6:30pm, with 2 volunteers cooking (you get cooking teams which switch every week), and then free-time. On Fridays you finish project early, so this would usually mean a full weekend staying in and exploring Cape Town, from wine-tasting to hiking, paragliding, learning about it’s important history, visiting boulders beach of penguins, etc.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Stupidly, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make friends or be with like-minded people, but as soon as I arrived, I knew this wouldn’t be a problem. Everyone is so different but so friendly and open to learn about each other, coming from different walks of life all over the world, but having the ultimate same thing in common to want to make a difference and grow themselves. A highlight from my trip was definitely connecting and sharing the experience with other volunteers.

Best and worst part of your trip?

Best part: Literally so many, it’s hard to choose one single, stand-out moment. However, having all the kids chant your name and run to hug and eagerly tell you things you taught them the week before was always a highlight. Outside of project, hiking Lion's Head during sunset was incredible.

Worst part: Definitely having to say goodbye to the amazing kids and teachers, to the exciting busy lifestyle you lived there, and to your new best friends who’ve shared the experience with you, but live halfway across the world. You take the experience back home with you, though, and your outlook on things change for the better.