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VACorps

About

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.

Website
www.vacorps.com
Founded
2006

Reviews

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Kassandra
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

So much more enriching than I could have imagined

I jumped on the opportunity to come to Cape Town but honestly didn’t do too much preparation for my time here prior to arrival. With COVID uncertainties and difficulty finding a clinical partner to work with I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. This experience has been so much more enriching than I could have imagined. I’ve lived abroad before but the community organization and cultural insights of VACorps were unlike anything else. I always enjoyed our Friday activities and although it was challenging to muster up the energy to go to the culture series after a long day at the clinic on Mondays, I always learned something new. VACorps played a huge role in how much I enjoyed Cape Town. This has been a week of challenging and emotional goodbyes. I can’t wait to come back in the future and share my love for Cape Town with others.

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Emma
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A great learning experience in a beautiful and vibrant city

I had the opportunity through my graduate program to complete one of my physiotherapy internships abroad in Cape Town. My school partners with the VACorps and we were paired with various sites around Cape Town. This was an amazing place to do an internship - the people were so welcoming, the food was incredible, and there was so much to do after work and on the weekends between nature, markets, and nightlife. I will miss the energy and joy here in Cape Town the most, along with the food and access to nature. We really enjoyed being out on the weekends and would always make new friends as everyone is so friendly and welcoming.

I loved working at my internship site because we got to meet and collaborate with local physio students, and work with children with a variety of diagnoses and abilities. I was able to practice being independent with my physio treatment and challenged myself to try new interventions. It was a great learning experience and I will never forget my time there.

The VACorps staff was so welcoming and felt like family from the second we arrived. They were there for anything we needed and we always felt so supported. They are the kindest group of people and made every Friday activity so much fun!

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Rachael
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Physical Therapy Internship in Cape Town

I chose to complete an internship in Cape Town because I knew I wanted another opportunity to study abroad and learn about physiotherapy in another cultural setting after having the opportunity to do so in Uganda. When I learned that my DPT program works closely with the VACorps and that this was a possibility for one of my clinical rotations, I jumped at the chance. I have greatly enjoyed my time working at my internship site. The kids are incredibly kind and amazing to work with, and the staff at the school are supportive and invested in helping students learn. I will never forget the two fourth graders who took the time to teach me Afrikaans as they were learning it in school. The VACorps staff is great, and the activities are so much fun! It is an exciting way to explore Cape Town and the surrounding areas with other students. I am particularly grateful for the Monday night culture series because it introduced me to aspects of South African culture I would not have otherwise experienced.

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Emily
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Sports Physical Therapy Internship in Cape Town

I chose Cape Town because of the beautiful scenery and the opportunity to work with a sports team for my internship. I had the great opportunity to work with experts in the field of sports physical therapy at a rugby club. From physiotherapists to strength and conditioning coaches, to health and wellness experts; I had amazing mentorship from every staff member. I learned and was able to practice a lot of different techniques that I hadn't yet learned in my program.  I was also made to feel so welcome from day one due to the welcoming nature of the staff and players. The high level of the athletes combined with the expertise of the support staff is unmatched in internships elsewhere.

VACorps was the key to having the best time possible during my internship in South Africa. The staff were welcoming, gave great advice and recommendations, and bridged the gap between my background and the local culture here in Cape Town, SA. Everyone who is a part of the VACorps program is so welcoming and treats you like family. I have learned so much from the weekly culture series and had endless fun on the Friday adventures. The country is spectacularly beautiful and the people are of the nicest I've met while traveling. I highly recommend this experience to anyone who is considering taking a leap and participating in an internship in this beautiful city.

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Madelyn
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Work experience, beaches, surfing, mountains, bars, restaurants, smiling people, sunshine -- what more could you want?

I chose Cape Town because it seemed to be a culture that was unlike any other that I have experienced before. Additionally, I wanted to be able to experience the differences in the healthcare system and how physical therapy differs from what I am used to. VACorps definitely made my time here in Cape Town SO MUCH better than it would have been otherwise. The staff always go out of their way to make you feel welcomed, safe and supported. My favorite part of interning in Cape Town was making connections with my patients and those I worked alongside, from who I learned so much. I became more confident and independent in treating children and maintaining my own caseload. Additionally, I was able to work alongside other healthcare professionals and get more insight into their approaches to treatment. I was able to build rapport and relationships with each of my patients. I learned a lot about different games and activities, behavioral management, and age-specific approaches to treatment. Everyone I have met here has helped me shape a new perspective on life (work, friendships, relationships, abilities, etc). This experience helped me learn how to appreciate the little things, find beauty in everything, and take the time to make connections and get to know those around me. In addition to all the beautiful people I have met, the scenery and surroundings of the city are spectacular. Cape Town is a city like no other.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 13

Alumni Interviews

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

Lachlan O'Neill

Lachlan O'Neill

Why did you choose this program?

I knew I wanted to travel and take a break after University, but I needed something that I could still put down on my CV. After looking at a couple of different options, I discovered VA Corps, which offered the perfect fit to my situation. Their programs were individually tailored to meet everyone's individual expectations for their experience in Cape Town. This was a major factor in my decision to undertake this program. The other factor of course being Cape Town's natural beauty and the opportunity to experience a new and different cultural outlook on life.

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

I will admit that initially the thought of traveling solo so far away to a completely new country for me was a bit intimidating. This feeling soon vanished as VA Corps was able to provide all the information I was looking for. Their online guide has a wealth of knowledge to answer all your questions, from information about immigration and flights to helpful hints about overcoming any initial culture shock you may experience. Their help in organizing not only housing but also finding your individual internship site means there is little for you to organize on your own.

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

You need to enter this program with an open mind, willing to try new things, foods and experiences. I'm aware that this can be intimidating for some people, but VA Corps provide 24 hour support during your time in the program so there is little for you to worry about. So put yourself in new situations, eat new food and meet lots of new people. You are only in Cape Town for a short period of time; you need to make the most of it. If you don't, not only am I sure you'll regret it, but you'll probably also feel that you didn't get much out of the program. Don't be that person: be open to new experiences, put yourself out there and enjoy yourself.

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

Everyone's individual day is completely different; you might get up at 6 in the morning and spend the whole day learning at a clinic. On the other hand, you could get up at 9 and walk down to a coffee shop. Open your laptop and work on a case file till after lunch, then go for a hike. Everyone's day is different but everyone gets out what they put in.

Two of the large benefits of VA Corps program is that on every Monday evening you have the opportunity to attend a session where you learn about different aspects of South African culture. This could be a tradition food tasting, guest speaker on some of the struggle experienced in South Africa, a session about the different languages spoken or many other differing things.

The other major benefit of the program is that every Friday you have the opportunity to experience different activity with the group. Activities like wine tastings, trips to the Cape of Good Hope or seeing Penguins and Cheetahs. All of this means that week will be busy and enjoyable.

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

One of the big fears before the experience is the worry that you're not going to fit in, that you're going to feel out of place and uncomfortable. I can tell you from my personal experience that this won't happen. You're going to be surrounded by lots of different people, from different countries all doing the same as you. You will fit in and you will become very good friends with many of these people. Cape Town itself can seem like an intimidating place but I can tell you that, after a week or two, it really isn't. If you use for common sense, you will feel comfortable very easily. It's a lovely place filled with many lovely people and you will get to see that.

What was your favorite experience during your time abroad?

I honestly have too many to choose from and they are all amazing in their own way. Experiences like getting to walk around Robben island and getting to see Nelson Mandela's cell were incredibly special. At the same time, even small things like talking with people who grew up under Apartheid is something that is going to stay with me for ever. On top of this, walking with Elephants and bungee jumping off a 216 meter tall bridge are things that I never thought I would do, as well as the 6 or 7 times I hiked Table Mountain.

Simply put, there are too many things to chose from. The main thing, though, is that I loved my time in Cape Town and would do it again in a heart beat.

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.