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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

Default avatar
Aku
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly Recommended

I have really enjoyed my Cape Town experience with VACorps, and it has truly been unforgettable. I have made so many memories and I have made friends for a lifetime. I especially enjoyed the Friday activities, this gave us the opportunity to explore different areas of Cape Town as well as spend time with everyone on the program. I will highly recommend VACorps to anyone looking to travel and work during their Gap Year as Cape Town is an incredible city, and the VACorps staff are wonderful, and really care about your experience.

Default avatar
Tracy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable

The time spent during my 2-month long stay in South Africa will forever be an unforgettable one. Cape Town became my destination of choice after I saw what the beautiful city has to offer. I’m passionate about travel and new experiences and thought this would be a great opportunity for both travel and work. My internship was a requirement to complete my studies and I am glad to say that I have achieved all that I had set out to when I first arrived.

Professionally, I have grown and gained a lot of valuable experience at my internship site. I learned a lot from the animation department and got to engage in a lot of tasks which I enjoyed.

Throughout my stay, Cape Town had been a sight to see every day. There is always something new around the corner and got to experience a lot of things for the first time through many of the VACorps activities. I will never forget the endless beaches and wineries and penguins! And so much more. Also, during my time here, I made a lot of friends and met so many people from diverse cultures which were exciting and interesting to see and learn about. The whole experience has been a lovely one and I’m glad to have been part of the program

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Jack
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I wouldn't trade this experience for the world

This was truly an eye-opening experience for me. Although college gave me the opportunity to be independent, this program really gave me the opportunity to experience what life would be like beyond the bounds of a university. There was a level of freedom here that I couldn’t obtain anywhere else and after falling in love with the city and its culture, I was starstruck. There’s just no end to the activities to do here and I can safely say that I was never bored for a second. I also gained valuable insight into what I want my future to hold for me and although I don’t have a clear-cut map of it yet, this program gave me a direction, which in the end gives me faith that I will get where I need to go. I wouldn’t trade in this experience for the world

Default avatar
Ben
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An incredible experience

VACorps was an incredible experience that made me fall in love with the city of Cape Town and its people. I did an internship at a local Cape Town radio station, and I was given the chance to do so many things. From reporting to producing to hosting my own show. Everyone there was very supportive and kind. I took initiative and did things with my time at the station, and as a result, was given the opportunity to grow as a reporter. It is hard to imagine my time here without the people of VACorps and the memories of the Friday activities. My experience was defined by a beautiful city and even more beautiful people and that is largely thanks to the openness and welcoming spirit of the VACorps community.

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Eman
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Everything I expected and so much more!

I chose Cape Town because I wanted to go somewhere completely different and outside of my comfort zone, and it was highly recommended to me by a friend who had done the program last year. The VACorps Program was everything I expected and so much more. Not only did I learn a lot about Cape Town, South Africa, and its rich and beautiful culture, but I also learned so much about myself, and my future career. I am more confident as a result. The VACorps team is so supportive and empathetic and they truly care about their interns and the experience they have in South Africa. I’m going to miss everyone so much. The VACorps team, the other VACorps program participants, and all of my work colleagues who were so kind and from whom I learned so much.

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.