South Africa: A Life Changing Experience

It has been about three weeks since I got home from Cape Town, South Africa and I’m missing my study abroad experience more then ever. I didn’t realize when I first embarked on the journey how much it would change my life. I participated in the communications program Promoting to the Rainbow Nation, which was a 3 week program.


(Traditional smiley, sheeps head, dish being cooked in the Khayelitsha Township Market)


(Our meal at Malebo’s Bed and Breakfast in Khayelitsha)

We spent our first week and a half learning and touring the city of Cape Town. We learned the history, about the people and experienced the culture. I loved getting to see what this beautiful city had to offer, from the mountains to the coast. Everyone we came in contact with was so friendly and made you feel more than welcome. The people amazed me in how they seemed to embrace their countries awful past but be moving forward to a better and brighter future.


(Representing UK while on the shores at Cape Point)

During our second week we met with two struggling NGO’s, Non-Governmental Organizations, in the Retreat and Langa communities of Cape Town. Both NGO’s had their strengths and weaknesses but had people with the biggest hearts running the organizations.


(Walking through the shack dwellings in the Langa Township. Langa is the oldest township in Cape Town)

Three other students and I chose to work with The Dan-Ag Care Centre, an organization focused on aiding and bettering the lives of the poorest of the poor in the Retreat community. During the first week we were in Cape Town we learned that the perception of the homeless in Cape Town was not a good one and that was something that was going to be a challenge to overcome to gain volunteers and donors. Denise, who is the main person in charge of The Dan-Ag Care Centre, runs a soup kitchen out of her car, holds sessions to teach parents better parenting skills, and conducts a children’s class. She also teaches a beading class once a week where women can then sale what they make to earn money. I was amazed that one person did all of this almost single handedly.


(Denise Delcarme, who runs The Dan-Ag Care Centre, at a Monday night soup kitchen drop) 

After seeing all the good Denise was trying to achieve but needing help with strategy my team decided to give her organization a social media presence to help her gain donors and more volunteers. We created a Facebook page along with a Facebook day-by-day plan and a new logo for the organization. We also created a newsletter for her to hand out to volunteers and donors that highlighted the main items the organization needed the most. In doing all of this work for The Dan-Ag Care Centre it renewed my love for working with non-profit organizations. Everyone we worked with was invested in bettering the lives of the people on the streets and making sure their future was better then their past.


(Group photo with our shark cage diving leader after the trip)


(African elephant during our game drive at Aquila Private Game Reserve)


(Group photo before our zip lining excursion through the mountains)

I got to experience so many things that I never thought I would get to do. We had four free days throughout our jam-packed trip in which I got to go shark cage diving, tour the Wine Lands, go on a game drive and zip-line through the mountains. I stepped out of my comfort zone by doing many of these things and now can’t wait to do them again. I have made friends that I will never forget and we will always have South Africa keeping us together. My only regret is not having done this trip sooner in my college career because I have learned so much about myself, how I want to live my life and who I want to be. I never thought that study abroad could change you as much as it did me.


(My group before we went out to dinner the second night) 

Photos and writing by Rachel Walker.

Rachel is the Promotion and Outreach Assistant at Education Abroad studying Integrated Strategic Communications. She is a Senior and she participated in the UK Sponsored Promoting to the Rainbow Nation program.