Letters from Cape Town

By Students Studying Abroad

Join UConn students in Cape Town, South Africa, as they experience a new culture and learn about global citizenship in theory and in practice.

Alex on Excited Nervousness

Alex and friend.

Alex and friend.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Cape Town for almost two weeks now, and that orientation is officially at an end. I can’t even begin to describe how much I adore this amazing city, and how enjoyable my time here so far has been. From swimming with penguins and Robben Island, to visiting townships and more, I feel like we’ve been shown an overview of every aspect of the city, and now it’s our time to explore what is in between.

For the past two days we have been visiting internship placements, learning more about the organization, and seeing what we will be doing when we get there. Each one looks like it has so much to offer, and I really feel like every one of us is going to have such life changing experiences. Today I got to visit BeautifulGate where I’ll be interning, and I have to admit I was VERY nervous about it. We drove through Phillipi East passing farms, cows, and goats, and finally arrived to a nice gated area covered with lovely murals, that was Beautiful Gate. We were led inside one room and watched a short video that went into detail about what the organization does, and then Alice told us about the programs they provide. They have two main sectors of the organization: the Community Support program, and the Community Development program – each with subdivisions of their own. The organization works in a wide spectrum, ranging from medical help to childcare and youth development, as well as a reunification team (where I’ll be!).

Alice explained a little about what I’ll be doing, and I’m looking forward to starting Monday to find out the rest. She told me I will be placed within the reunification team working with a social worker. Tuesdays I get to accompany the social worker into the townships to meet with families, working to integrate the child back into their home and community. I can’t put into words how excited I am to be so hands-on and working within a community that really needs help. The experiences I’m so fortunate enough to be able to have truly are going to be life changing. However, with all that said I am actually even more nervous.

You know that dream or goal you have in life about what you want to do when you grow up? What happens when the next step you take puts you really close to making it come true … and that next step happens to occur Monday? For as long as I can remember, my goal in life was to work in developing countries and areas that truly needed help. To work with people who are in need – true need. To be hands-on, doing everything in my power to change the negative parts of their lives, and to be able to positively impact them and their community. When I begin Monday at Beautiful Gate I’m going to have that chance to help someone do what I’ve always pictured myself doing. I am thrilled and excited to experience it, but in the back of my mind is a pool of “What Ifs?” It’s scary thinking that in a few days everything I’ve wanted to do will actually be happening, and what if I don’t like it after all? What if I realize I’m not cut out for this type of activity or career like I always thought I was? What happens then if that’s the case? Am I back at square one? What then?

I guess that’s why the program sets up such amazing opportunities like this for us. It allows us to try out those things that we are passionate about and see if it actually is a nice fit. And regardless of what I might find out regarding if this really is what I want to do or not, it’s the experiences I’m going to have that count. Just knowing that I am able to make a difference in one person’s life – that makes everything worth it. I can’t wait to see what this adventure will hold – stay tuned to find out!