Why choose VACorps?

The VACorps internship program creates tailored placements in Cape Town, South Africa. We consistently receive rave reviews from program participants, parents and university administrators alike because we devote all our energy to one purpose -- helping you have a personally and professionally rewarding internship experience in Cape Town.

As a participant of our program, you will join a community that feels like a family. When you arrive in South Africa, we make it incredibly easy for you to adjust to life in Cape Town and call this city your home. From your very first day in the country, we will guide you through a comprehensive orientation that ensures you will take full advantage of every moment in South Africa. You will immediately be networked with other participants so that you have a peer group to relate with as you quickly adapt to life in a new city you'll soon be calling home.



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Yes, I recommend this program

The VACorps program changed my life

My experience with the VACorps program genuinely has changed my life as to who I am. I adored every second of being here and learning about myself and the different cultures here. If I had the chance to come back I would in a heartbeat and I made several life-long friends during my stay.

My internship really helped me have job clarity because I was unsure if I was in the right major. However, once I had spent several days at my internship site, I was reassured that my job choice in the field of PT is great for me as I look ahead to the future.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I have loved every second I was here in Cape Town!

I chose Cape Town as my internship location because of the immense beauty and rich culture present here! I have loved every second of the 5 weeks that I have spent in Cape Town, and I will forever cherish the amazing memories, friendships, and lessons that I have experienced. What I loved most about my time in Cape Town were the memories I made here both at my internship site and outside of it! At my medical internship site, I learned to keep an open mind and be very vocal and outgoing when speaking with the nurses, doctors, and staff. Outside of my internship site, I have gotten to learn about the culture of South Africa alongside the many friends that I made during my time here. The VACorps staff did an amazing job with organizing weekly activities and culture sessions that helped me to meet so many of the other VACorps interns! I am so grateful for my time in Cape Town and for the many experiences and friendships I have made along the way thanks to VACorps.

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Yes, I recommend this program

A great adventure in a beautiful city

I heard about VACorps from my friends and wanted to go with them. I’ve always heard Cape Town is a beautiful place, and I wanted to learn how the medical world worked here. I loved meeting the people most. I loved shadowing doctors, too. I learned that I am capable of more than I thought I was before coming on this trip. I’ll never forget watching my first birth at the clinic. I loved the markets in Cape Town. I will miss the food, the views, and the people. I stayed for five weeks and I would advise others to do the same. It’s a perfect amount of time to be away and get what you need to get done. The staff and the activities were amazing. I’m most grateful for Kus and Kholi from the VACorps team.

  • My internship experience
  • Weekly activities
  • Kholi and Kuselwa - amazing staff support!
  • There could have been better communication with the clinic prior to the start of my internship
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Yes, I recommend this program

I can't imagine who I would be without Cape Town or this internship!

In a word my time in Cape Town, South Africa with VACorps was incredible! This was the first chance I've really had to live independently and it helped me to figure out what I want in life and who I want to be. I can't imagine who I would be without this place or this internship. I ended up extending my stay in Cape Town well beyond the end of the gap year program. In terms of my future career, learned what working for a non-profit is actually like and how adults attempt to balance work and life.

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Yes, I recommend this program

This was my "go big or go home" moment!

Although my stay was only five weeks, this was the greatest experience of my life. I have never traveled before, so this was a huge change. First and foremost I learned that travelling might be my thing. I would love to come back. VACorps were amazing. I was treated as family from the second I walked in. I am very appreciative of the staff specifically. They were outstanding humans. I chose Cape Town because it was a go big or go home type of decision. I had never left the United States so I decided why not go somewhere crazy. My favorite part about the journey here was the culture shock. I learned so many new things that made me smarter and got rid of any ignorance or lack of knowledge I may have had about countries I have never been to. The people, specifically in Observatory, are amazing.

  • The VACorps team are very good with communication
  • Kholi is an incredible local host!
  • I could have stayed for longer


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.


Why did you choose this program?

I fell in love with South Africa on my 9th grade spring break trip to Johannesburg with my high school. After that experience, I knew I always wanted to come back. So when I took a gap year, I knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity to travel to Cape Town. After doing some research online and speaking to past VaCorps alumni, it seemed like the perfect fit for me: an informative and immersive internship experience supplemented with the freedom to explore Cape Town's beauty and endless adventure.

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

VaCorps was proactive in matching me with an internship placement. I filled out an in depth questionnaire about my interests and the placement advisors then provided potential matches and organized interviews to find the best fit. I eventually decided to intern at Bush Radio and loved every minute of it.

When I first arrived in Cape Town, VaCorps organized a 2 week orientation which included a weekend trip on the Garden Route, an in depth safety presentation, and various activities to better understand South African culture and bond with other gappers before starting our internships.

VaCorps also provided weekly Friday activities which were a great way to not only relax after a long week and prepare for the weekend but also explore more of Cape Town with friends. My favorite activities were sailing in the V&A waterfront, seeing penguins in Simonstown, and hiking the Boomslang caves.

Outside of work hours and the Friday VAC activities, it was up to us to decide how we wanted to spend our free time. From beach days, to hiking Table Mountain, or day trips to the Stellenbosch wine estates, there really is no shortage of adventure.

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

Be open to new opportunities!

During my gap year, I prioritized doing things outside of my comfort zone. You really never know where it may lead you: a new friendship, a new hobby, or a lifelong memory. Cape Town is full of surprises and things to do so just go out and explore and I promise you won't ever want to leave!

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

Morning: Working at internship site
Afternoon/Evenings: Go to the gym, going out to dinner, checking out different neighborhoods in Cape Town, beach for sunset

Friday and Weekends:
Friday afternoon VAC activities, going out with friends, beach days, surfing, hikes, food markets, weekend day trips outside of the city, special events (festivals, food halls, 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?

I had traveled quite a bit growing up but nothing compared to my experience in Cape Town. This was the first time living alone over 7000 miles from home and with a 7 hour time difference. The fear of uncertainty terrified me. I didn't know what to expect at all and came knowing no one. Once I got to Cape Town, however, I immediately found that sense of community amongst my friends and with my co-workers at Bush Radio. My best advice is to find those people that bring out the best in you and those you can express your authentic self around. Explore new places that excite you and incorporate daily habits from home in your daily routine when abroad. Within a couple weeks, Cape Town truly started to feel like my home away from home and I cried when I left. Once I stopped letting my fear of uncertainty consume me, I was excited when new experiences and opportunities were presented and could live freely in the present moment.

Share your favorite story from this program.

One weekend, my friends and I decided to tackle Table Mountain, one of the seven wonders of the natural world and the most challenging hike we'd done so far. Less than 1 hour into our 6 hour hike, I felt my body giving up on me. I kept telling myself that it was too challenging and that I was never going to make it. I was so tempted to just head back and grab some lunch by the beach. But I had to finish what I had started and snap out of this mindset, considering I still had 5 hours left. It was in this moment, sitting on top of a rock overlooking the nature below, when I reminded myself of the promise I made to myself: that I'd do things outside of my comfort zone that scare me and make me doubt myself. I learned that my mind often gives up before my body does and the moment I felt like giving up was the moment I had to revisit why I was here and keep pushing. After this change in mindset, I embraced the present moment and cheered myself on even when I wanted to give up. I was doing this for me and no one else. The sense of accomplishment I felt when I reached the peak, overlooking panoramic views of the city below, was indescribable.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Athena Lamberis

Athena has lived, worked and studied in over twelve countries around the world before graduating from Michigan State University in 2005. She loves diving into cross-cultural experiences, language learning and documenting beauty and creativity around every corner. Cape Town has been home since 2008, where her love for experiential education, natural spaces and the search for the next tasty meal collide.

Having been a semester abroad student in South Africa herself, she adds her own personal knowledge and enthusiasm for those ready to embark on their own learning adventure abroad!
Athena Lamberis - Education International

What is your favorite travel memory?

One of my favorite travel memories was being in Athens during the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The city was pumping with so much energy from around the world. A casual stroll down the road felt like a global carnival. I passed by a corner where there was a scene of Brazilians were playing capoeira, while a band of Ugandan drummers danced past the group of Japanese fans cheering about a victory, all on my way to watch the sunset behind the Parthenon with friends from Mexico, Turkey, and Australia.

It was one of the most joyful cross-cultural experiences I have experienced in addition to celebrating solidarity and amazing human endeavors!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Although I had lived in South Africa for 6 years prior to working with VACorps, the work and relationships I have been able to form these past 4 years have granted me a more in-depth exposure to different South African realities.

I have grown in compassion, become a better listener, and am more engaged in learning more about current issues that motivate leaders to make innovative business or organizational choices and create positive social change.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I often receive the 'wish I was still there' emails and enjoy viewing the video collages students tend to make and share across their social media channels. The best stories for me, though, are the students that integrate their experience abroad directly into their lives. This has ranged from a legal intern student going onto working in the UN, a communications student producing their own local show, and a social work graduate who went on to initiate their own community project.

No matter what field of study the students are engaged with: it's always amazing to hear about how everyone's perspective abroad directly impacts the choices they make.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

This changes from week to week. Why? Because I am someone who is typically extremely inspired by passionate people and so many organizations and businesses in Cape Town have dynamic teams that motivate people to get involved!

The changing socio-political landscape of Cape Town makes diving into social justice advocacy programs important, but joining a start-up business incubator is also exhilarating. There are times I am inspired to assist in social work or counseling programs or even help produce digital media for youth development or sustainable community food gardens. I am always intrigued by environmental education and conservation programs because being surrounded by Cape Town's amazing biodiversity is like nowhere else in the world. Because I love learning more about languages and cultures, there is always something to contribute to that supports refugee and asylum-seeking communities and overall social cohesion in Cape Town.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Everyone involved with VACorps has a genuine interest in education and connecting students to exciting and engaging learning experiences. I have had the privilege to meet and get to know local leaders in a variety of fields who lead and manage operations that aim for positive social impact and innovations. I am proud that we support their initiatives, attend their events and think of creative ways for students to assist in achieving their vision for the greater good.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The work we do is purposeful, and this drives the company to make positive decisions, additions, and adaptations to our program offerings. I believe this ability to reflect, improve and evolve as a team creates success and enhances the entrepreneurial spirit of a company. We depend on each other to bring positive and meaningful passion into our work and this, in return, is appreciated by each student that joins the program.