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Youth for Understanding South Africa International Youth Exchange

NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2011 Dear YFU Friends and Families Prosperous, blessed and happy 2011 for each and every one of you! Exchange students are already halfway through their stay in South Africa, so are South Africans spending year abroad. No doubt they are getting to know their environment and themselves better and better every day, and as many of former exchange students agree, second half always feels shorter, time just flies. But let’s see what was happening in YFU SA world recently. It’s a lot – students gathering, interns coming and leaving, volunteers meeting in different parts of South Africa. Summer weather in November, December and January happens to be very extraordinary experience for exchange students as most of them would associate those moths with cold and snow. This year there was no time to miss it

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

– annual Cape Tour proved to be amazing, touristic and enriching time! Go through the memories and pictures from two wonderful weeks to see why everybody loved it. Students also enjoyed their different Christmas experiences – under the African sun and blue skies, were surrounded by little African sisters, as in YFU volunteer’s Sigrid’s case. Came January, it was time to welcome new exchange students to South Africa – their excitement and preparation for an exchange made Post-arrival orientation fun and helpful time. So was Midyear orientation in Port Elizabeth – students reflected on their experiences and made sure to enjoy the second half of the exchange year. We wish they will make the best of it!

IN THIS NEWSLETTER: Informal get-together of PE students................2 Junior Volunteer Council update........................2 Meet up of Limpopo volunteers.........................3 YFU volunteer Sigrid and her little African sisters..................................................................3 Highlight of summer holidays - Cape Tour.........5 Memories from Cape Tour.................................9 Stefanie’s internship in Pretoria.......................12 Greetings from Denmark..................................13 South African Christmas...................................13 What’s happening in Bloemfontein region.......17

Monika Skorupskaite, Intern at YFU PE

Post-arrival orientation in Pretoria...................18 New intern in Gauteng......................................19 Mid-year orientation in PE................................19


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Five of YFU PE exchange students and intern Monika after lunch at Mug&Bean, on Saturday 13th of November. From left to right: Pablo (Germany), Astrid (Norway), Jette (Germany), intern Monika, Ameline (France),Franziska (Germany)

exams’ period, five of nine PE students showed up! We headed straight to Mug&Bean where different topics were discussed – students were sharing their worries regarding exams, how much they need to study and when they will have exams. Girls were wondering why some of them gained weight, some of them even lost few kilos! It was clear that YFU PE students are very sportive! All mentioned doing some kind of sports – some attending gym, like Franziska, some going jogging, like Astrid, or Ameline shared her passion of athletics. After the students were done with the lunch, YFU representative in PE Iris Goeda and Lesley joined the group and were attacked with questions about December Tour – what to bring, what not to bring, how many students are coming, where will they stay and so on. Students who are going on tour are so much looking forward it! It was nice to meet up and chat together! Monika Skorupskaite, intern at YFU PE

Exchange students staying in Port Elizabeth were invited to meet up on Saturday, 13 th of November and have lunch together, get to know new intern Monika and share experiences. Even after a short notice and meeting scheduled in

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

YFU Junior Volunteer Council update The Junior Volunteer Council (JVC) has a busy year ahead after presenting its goals and objectives for 2011 at the YFU Annual General Meeting in October, 2010. The JVC has progressed immensely since its establishment, and it is now time to take things to a new level with planned marketing and community involvement throughout the provinces. We are excited to hold the second Annual Conference in the coming months and we hope to invite and welcome more members into this wing! A prosperous and exciting 2011 therefore awaits us and we look forward to informing and involving you in our plans and projects! Best wishes to you and your family for 2011!!! Jaymion Hendricks, JVC chairperson


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other great things above all we get to make life long relationships.

On the 29th of November 2010 the Limpopo YFU volunteers got together for the first time with a common goal, to learn more about YFU and their roles as volunteers. We all introduced ourselves, Ngoako Mashitisho, Chantell van Der Merwe, Tetelo Mabiletsa, Katlego Leshabane and Sabelo Mokgehle. Smiles all around as we got to know each other over brunch. We were not clued up as to what exactly YFU is and what it’s about, however that was soon to change. Ngoako began by giving us a brief history class concerning YFU, which of course kept us all on the edge of our seats. We then went on to discuss what happens when a student goes on exchange. Chantell and Ngoako spoke more on their experiences which needless to say were unforgettable, which resulted in the rest of us feeling as though we could rewind time and go on exchange as well. Seeing that it is not possible, just before we thought all hope is lost, we moved on to discuss the roles of a YFU volunteer. It turns out there was hope after all! We learnt that we get to do cool stuff like presentation and orientation programs among

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

YFU VOLUNTEER SIGRID AND HER LITTLE AFRICAN SISTERS Hi everybody! The people from YFU SA asked me to write an article about my experience as a YFU volunteer in a children home. So here you go.

A definite success as we all left not only having extensive information on YFU and also very eager to put our knowledge to good use. As the motto goes “Why be boring when you could be exploring”! Sabelo Mokgehle, YFU Limpopo volunteer

I’ll start with the question “Why volunteer work in a children home?”It is quite easy. I was born with a passion for kids. When I was 8 years old I went to my neighbour to help there as a ‘day mother’, when I was 15 I went for babysitting and when I turned 16 I became a monitor on the


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playground. Also when the people asked me ‘What do you want to do when you are older?’ I answered ‘I want to go and help kids that need it’. So where could I realize this dream more than in a children home in South Africa? Now, after 4.5 months I still enjoy every moment and I never regretted my decision!

My task here in the children home is to look after the 10 little girls between 4 and 12 years old together with my colleague, Tannie Annatjie. In the morning at 5 o’clock the children wake up and make themselves ready for school, while they are busy preparing themselves, Tannie Annatjie and I make the porridge and coffee. Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

When the children are at school I am free to do what I want. Most of the time I help Tannie Annatjie in the clothes store, sometimes I go to the mall or swim a little bit. When the children are back from school I help them with their homework and after that we go and play outside! In the evening I make their food and look a little bit TV together with them. Like you can read are my days always full. Sometimes the kids drive me really crazy, but after all I am really happy here!

The love and friendship that they give me every day again are more than enough to survive and to be happy 24/7! And after all, I know when I go back to Belgium; I have 10 little sisters and an African mother and father that are waiting for me to come back! Sigrid Vandeweerd, YFU volunteer from Belgium

Every day when I wake up and I hear their voices I start smiling and I know ‘ this is a good day’ and I remind myself why I made this decision!


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HIGHLIGHT OF THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS CAPE TOUR! After an early morning start we left for Port Elizabeth, most of the students tried to sleep on the bus, but with a group so excited to see South Africa, it must have been difficult. The Willows were our first stop, what a wonderful place. Some tried out the tidal pool and some were to “shy” to get into a swimming suite. This soon changed.

Billabong factory turned out to be a shopping experience everybody enjoyed, judging from all the T-shirts that were bought. At the beach a hero emerged when a girl that was swept away in a current, was saved by Christoffer Kjaer from Denmark. The next stop was Tsitsikamma Adventures where we were greeted by a friendly instructor that quickly got us dressed up for the fun we were about to have, yes the ZIPLINE!!!

was so focused on not hitting the tree on the other side, that they were on the brakes from the word go. This soon changed and the rides got faster and faster, with a lot of screaming and smiling going on. Some were confident enough to do it with one hand or two, to wave at the camera as they whooshed past it at break neck speeds. The adrenalin was pumping, the rides got longer and faster, the smiles were not of fear anymore but of enjoyment. THEN…… the Cobra…. 210m long… fast…. and also our second last line for the day. As we walked back we were grateful that we had the opportunity to see nature from high above and were all in one piece. Our host prepared a braai and the students prepared a concert for us. After supper we all had great fun with the concert. Some enjoyed it so much that they even changed the “script” during the performance or they started laughing so much that the rest of the team couldn’t continue.

After a quick stop in a nature reserve we were off to Jeffrey’s Bay, aka J-Bay. Our first two patients of the trip were quickly treated for minor illnesses, flu & tonsillitis. A visit to the the Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

Everybody was standing smiling at each other; it was not because they were all happy; they were scared! Safety rules were explained, however when we got to the STOPPING part everybody


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long walk waited for us. The boat ride to the reserve was bumpy and wet but we all enjoyed it. We were transported to the top of the mountain and a guide accompanied us on the two kilometer hike back to the base camp. The view was spectacular - fauna and flora in an untouched environment. We had peace and quiet for a while. Those who where to “tired” were transported back to base camp with the vehicle because they would not have made the steep steps and winding footpath. Storms River Mouth - one of the most beautiful places on the Garden Route was our next stop. A 900m hike up and down the mountain took us to the river mouth. A suspension bridge over the river connects you with the other side were you can do a “short” climb to the top view point. A very energetic group asked me if they are allowed to go to the view point and I said yes, anything to get them tired. Carla and her “donkey” (this being Werner – ed.) made it back and soon the rest of the group joined us at the visitors centre. Yes, they were tired. The next morning we visited the Knysna’s Featherbed Nature Reserve. A quick lunch and a Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

Arriving at Oudsthoorn we were greeted by a feast. The staff had prepared Ostrich Sosaties or kebabs for us, home baked bread and salads. A comfortable bed and a full stomach were the best ingredients for a good night’s rest. We needed it the next morning as we were going to the Congo Caves. The brave ones went first as they started the adventure route,crawling through holes and walking through narrow passages. We made sure we didn’t leave anybody behind as we moved on to the Ostrich Farm. Our guide was fantastic, a quick introduction to the Ostrich Industry, the breeding process and all the products derived from an ostrich. We also met our first real ostrich.

Chris got kissed by a long legged lady. Pierre, Clara, Janne, Nicklas became ostrich Jockeys! A few lucky ones got an ostrich massage before we left for Meiringspoort afterwards for a quick swim in the mountain streams before we left for the Backpackers Lodge. Dinner that evening ended with cake as it was Janne’s birthday. Happy Birthday in eight different languages at the same time was sung for this occasion. From hot to cold. That’s the way you explain the road between Oudsthoorn and Mossel Bay. A long drive awaited us as we depart for Cape Town, the Mother City.


Youth for Understanding South Africa International Youth Exchange

Cape Town, wow, where do you start? It was a wonderful experience to be in Cape Town, so many things to do but so little time.

Cape Point must be one of the best memories. A quick photo session at Cape Point and the students were off for a short hike. We drove around to meet them at the visitor’s centre. They all arrived with a sweat and a smile. Cold drinks were handed out and we were off to the light house and beyond. The lighthouse provided us with a view of where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet, but we wanted a better view. Off we go on a 45min hike, we are young and fit so we will do it in 30min, well so we thought. Turned out to be an hour trip…….

Mother earth played around with the wind and the chances of going up Table Mountain looked bad. But as always we got a gap in the weather and up we went. The view was spectacular. The Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

whole mountain was explored, by some energetic ones, while “management” waited around the Shop on Top. Here the group spilt up into two groups. Neels drove the one group to the Waterfront for a trip to Robben Island and I drove the other group to Muizenberg for a surfing lesson. Both groups enjoyed it very much.

Visiting Seal Island was a wet and windy experience. The boat’s captain had to battle the strong wind and got as close as possible to the island. Hundreds of seals were waiting for us to show of their little island; some were playing in the water around the boat as we approached


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the Island. The Captain took us around the Head at Hout Bay to show us the shipwreck of a boat before heading back to calmer water in the harbor. Some did manage to retain their parlor while four of the group found it very difficult.

dwarf to help us. As always Santa and Marry Christmas pitched up as the party started and they handed out the presents.

Memories from the Cape Tour

What is a trip without a Christmas Party? We organized our own little Christmas party with gifts, fun and laughter.

Ingvild Klinge, Norway Sunset in South Africa is always a romantic experience, we had two of those!!!! We visited Bloubergstrand and Signal Hill just to see how the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean. As the sun set it was also time for us to return home and let the sun set over a wonderful Cape Tour 2010. We all had to buy a small present for somebody, which was a mission in its own. We got a tree and the group decorated it with their own Christmas decorations. Presents were placed under the tree and all was set, except for the fact that we did not have a Santa Clause or a Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

Werner Van Der Heever, driver of one of Cape Tour buses

After four months of challenges, mood swings, cultural shock and new experiences we had made new friends, got established in a new family and lived a totally different life from the one we left behind in our home countries. Thus, I think we all agreed that meeting each other again during the December tour 2010 was a nice chance to take a breath and really get to talk about our experiences – with someone who is in the same position as you. Not only could we spend time hearing about each other’s new South African lives, we also got to see and learn more about this lovely country. During the first days we got to go on a mini-safari at Kragga


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Kamma Game Reserve, fight the sea current in Jeffrey’s Bay, swing between the trees over Tsitsikama’s canyon – and only dream about swinging from the world’s highest bungy jump

bridge. By the time ten days had past, we had also met an enchanting magician, climbed a hill for an amazing view, taken a boat trip in Knysna and been kissed, hugged and massaged by ostriches in Oudtshoorn (not to forget the six who clung to a running ostrich!). We had travelled far and been quite busy since we left Port Elizabeth, so it felt good to settle in Cape Town and leave the suitcases open for the rest of the time. My impression is that we got to see and do everything a tourist in CT should and can do: at Cape Point we could lean against the wind Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

and (with some good imagination) spot the line where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet; we enjoyed a boat trip to Seal Island, some hanging over the rail and studying the back of their eye lids rather than the seals; we fought over the prices on the city marked; half of the group learned how to surf as the other half went to Robben Island; and of course – we experienced Table Mountain from all possible angles and settings: from underneath, laying bathed in the sunset and when we could feel the cool morning breeze on the top. In between the tourist attractions, we spent some hours working on our tan (or for some, including myself, our sunburn). Two weeks passed quickly – too quickly! – and on our last night together we had a nice Christmas party where everybody gave somebody a present, and Santa himself listened to our wishes and gave us a candy. It was a great trip where we experienced a lot and really got to know each other as the big YFU family we became. Thank you to the whole group with who I created such great memories and to YFU for arranging an exciting adventure without a hitch!

Veronica Esters, Germany Every year there is an opportunity for the exchange students in South Africa to go with YFU for two weeks to the cape to see the beautiful landscape of South Africa’s seaside. The Cape Tour 2010 started on 26 th November in Port Elizabeth where we stayed in houses directly next to the sea. After spending two awesome days in PE we went on our way to Jeffery’s Bay to a game reserve to see wild animals like zebras, giraffes and rhinos. In Jeffery’s Bay we had great days on the beach and a lot of fun in the sun. in all accommodations we stayed for one or two nights until we reached Cape Town but before we arrived Cape Town we had amazing activities like going on top of mountains to see the awesome sea, the zip line in the Tsitsikamma mountains, shopping in African markets, jumping from rocks in natural swimming pools in the mountains, visiting an ostrich farm where some of us rode an ostrich or just sat on it and


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exploring the Cango caves. On 5th December we arrived in CT where we stayed in a school hostel. We did a lot of unforgettable things like having an awesome sunset in front of the Table Mountain and on the Signal Hill where we could see all the lights of the city after the sun set, being on top of the Table Mountain and on Robben Island, seeing the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic at the same time at the Cape Point, surfing and swimming in the sea, shopping in the mall and doing a boat tour to see sea-lions.

Everybody enjoyed this tour where we also made a lot of friends from around the world. Nobody will ever forget this two weeks and the experience we made. Thanks to YFU that they make it possible for us to get all these wonderful memories.

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

Astrid Hasund Thorseth, Norway

I look back at the tour and there are certain things I think everyone remember more than others. Like at Kragga Kamma Game Reserve were we had to fight an ostrich who tried to steal our lunch. And in Jeffery’s Bay were the waves got to rough, but the Great Dane saved everyone and became the hero of the day. Watching the beautiful sunset at the beach in Cape Town. The great view from Table Mountain. All the crazy things Gregory did. And Uncle Werner’s Christmas Party was a great end of the two amazing weeks! The tour was in all a success and I think each and every one really enjoyed it. It was hard to say goodbye the last day, and I think everybody is looking forward to see each other again on the Township Exchange tour in February!

Jaymion Hendricks, one of Cape Tour leaders Being part of the 2010 Cape Tour was definitely one of the highlights on the YfU calendar for 2010! Not only did we have the amazing opportunity to enjoy and experience South Africa’s majestic natural scenery, we also had the chance to learn more about each other and the experiences that the students had thus far made whilst being in South Africa. No stone was left unturned, as we did just about every tourist attraction in the Cape! Close friendships were formed and the trip was extremely successful. Many hours were spent at the beach and around the braai! Thanks to an amazing group of students and tour leaders! Without the cooperation of all the students and without their good behaviour, the tour would definitely not have been as memorable and fun!


Youth for Understanding South Africa International Youth Exchange

Astrid Hansen, Denmark For me the highlights on the tour were the arrival to Jeffrey’s Bay, where the beach “greeted us” with wide, nearly deserted and pale shores. It was an amazing experience which is highly comparable with “dreamland”. We were all just jumping around and taking pictures . The other highlight was actually one of the last days in Cape Town, where a small group of the students decided to go to Robben Island. It is so hilarious to think back on all the Capetownians and other tourists faces, as we were running down to the ferry through the whole city/harbour just to find out, that we didn’t make it. The ferry left without us, so we got to spend one or two hours more walking between the shops seeing people shaking their heads as we exhausted came back after an intense run for nothing.

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

A big thanks to YFU SA for planning the tour! Rynette Scholtz and Stefanie cuddling the baby rhino

“SEEMS LIKE MY PURPOSE IN LIFE…” One of the typical questions I had to answer time and time again after I returned from my three-month-internship for YFU in Pretoria: “Was it a lot of work?” And I just replied: “Work? No, I didn’t really see it like that. It was more like – well – life.” Of course there were those days during the orientation, when I had no idea how to get up in the morning, because no one had felt like going to bed the night before.

Or those moments in the office, when some problem just refused to be fixed and I couldn’t keep track of all those worried emails from a student’s parents or some other YFU office. And how I would have hated these moments of my internship, if there hadn’t always been wonderful people around to give me a hint here and there, to come to my aid, and to cheer me up again with their endless optimism. There is Rynette, of course, the most wonderful YFU coordinator I have ever met, and so much more to me than just someone I worked for and lived with. Besides from giving me the chance to visit my host family again, she also gave me a home


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and welcomed me into her family. I guess that might be one of the reasons why my internship was not really work, but more like a different – and wonderful – life I’ve lived for a while. I’d love to say something similar here about every great person I’ve met during my internship; but I’m afraid this article would be too long then for anyone to read it. Just let me tell you, that my internship has not only taught me lot about the handling of difficult situations, about communication, and of course about people.

learn more about a fascinating country full of contrasts and challenges, and to take some wonderful memories with me, that I will never forget. Thank you, everyone! I’ve loved my time with you! I love and miss all of you! Stefanie Vedder, intern at YFU Gauteng, from July to September 2010


Leigh Baatjies, South African exchange student in Denmark, wishes everybody happy 2011 and shares some pictures of cold Danish Christmas and her holiday in Copenhagen!

Group photo of Post-arrival orientation in Pretoria

It has also given me a chance to get together again with old friends, make new acquaintances, Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011


Youth for Understanding South Africa International Youth Exchange


Astrid Hansen, Denmark:

Exchange students share their experiences during Christmas in South Africa. Astrid Hasund Thorseth, Norway: In Norway we start celebrating Christmas the 1st of December. You spend a lot of time with your family, you decorate your house for Christmas and you’re enjoying the cold weather and the snow by doing activities like skiing and iceskating. This Christmas was for me quite different. I spent the first 10 days of December on the Cape Tour. When I came back to P.E. life was surprisingly normal and I used to go to the beach the weeks before Christmas, hang out with friends and practice in the dance studio together with the dance team that I’m a part of. And suddenly it was there, Christmas Eve. For me that’s a big day, you’re enjoying the day with your family, good food and Christmas presents. This Christmas Eve wasn’t exactly like that – I went to the internet café to Skype with my family in Norway, and then it was dance practice the rest of the day and lunch at KFC.

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

Astrid with her dance group, Revolution

Christmas day started early in the morning when my sisters and I had to be in church 7 o’clock for a final dance practice with Revolution, the dance team. We danced after worship and everything went well – also my solo part. We went to my uncle after church and spent the whole day there with aunties, uncles, cousins and friends. The Christmas meal was huge and served around 2 o’clock. Everybody was quite full after that and relaxed by the pool and played games the rest of the day. Christmas was definitely different – but absolutely great! 

The sun is up, the wind is blowing and the seldom rain is pouring. Here by the coast in Port Elizabeth the temperature have been more or less mid 20 during the whole festive season. Back in Denmark that old Christmas spirit used to find its way to me already during November, but this year I did not feel anything before the very end of December.


Astrid after last minute shopping on the 24 of Dec

Coming home from the Cape Tour was difficult you had to deal with the fact, that you were no longer surrounded by people 24/7. Considering my “loneliness” I managed to have fun helping with the baking of a variety of more or less ten


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different kinds of biscuits, which definitely helped feeling at home during the Christmas. As I am used to the Scandinavian Christmas with snow, darkness, real Christmas tree of fir, music and people gathering inside to keep warm, I must admit that I had a slightly different Christmas here in South Africa. December 24th, after a couple of days of cooking and preparation, including running frustrated around in the highly packed shopping malls, the family, Monika, the Lithuanian intern and I sat down to have our supper before going to midnight mass. Around 9.30pm I suddenly remembered that the Danish Christmas was about to be over, so during the last 30 minutes before we left, I quickly phoned as many people as possible. Apparently this year the mass began earlier, which resulted in us being late and the mass ending even before midnight, but I am really glad that I went with, because for me this is one vital annual Christmas happening – Church. After midnight back in Westering Iris, Monika and I started preparing Trifle, which was something I only saw in movies, so I was quite excited for the result. We finally finished before 03:00 am thinking how to wake up at 05:15 am having only 15 minutes to get ready to take a Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

taxi down to Happy Valley at the beachfront, where we would attend a so called “Sunrise service” a 06:00 am. Next morning we ran into a bit of issues. First it was pouring with rain, our taxi left without us and there was no way we could make it down to Summerstrand, but suddenly another taxi came and we hurried down to the beach finding out that the service only started at 07:00 am. Monika and I then decided to go for a walk along the beach, and after the service, which was mainly targeted for elders, we went to a café to pamper ourselves with a nice and healthy Christmas breakfast. As we sat there watching the waves, mother nature gave us one of the best presents - to watch a group of dolphins swimming by. It was AMAZING!

Family Christmas lunch

Before returning to Westering to enjoy our Christmas lunch and present exchange, we had a quite unusual Christmas experience taking pictures with the lifeguards dressed up with Christmas caps.

For New Years we went to Addo and saw unusual many elephants and on our way back home we got dropped off at Willow Grove, a camp where we just chilled, listened to music and walked around. Thanks to my hosts I met so many new and amusing people, who I had fun with for 4 days at the camp. New Years morning, nice and early, I went swimming at the beach all alone. It was probably the best way of “going


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into the new year” and I definitely did not go swimming the 1st of January ever before. The Festive season in South Africa has been unusual yet exciting for me and I am sure, that I will return to this beautiful country one day for the December holidays! Veronica Esters, Germany: Christmas in South Africa was very different. Me and my Host family celebrated Christmas on the farm of my host grandpa with my host aunt, host uncle and host cousins. My host dad just fixed his and finished his new landrover so my host dad, my host sister and I drove with this car to the farm and my host mum and my host brother with another car. My host sister and me enjoyed the sun outside in the back of the landrover but after a while my dad stopped the car. A wheel of the car broke and we had to fix it in the heat of the South African sun. After 1 ½ hour and a big sunburn later the car could drive again and we went on driving to the farm. After arriving at the farm and greeting everybody we all jumped in the pool to cool down. In the evening we had the typical South African braai. When everybody had the food on the plate it got dark… no Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

electricity for the rest of the evening. So we had to use small lamps and candles which made a nice feeling. After finishing dinner we went to our plastic Christmas tree where all the presents were lying. My grandpa gave everybody the presents and then we opened them. My two little host cousins were very especially excited about it. As we were finished it was almost midnight and we made a little countdown to the 25 th December and we wished everybody a “geseende kersfees”. We spent the following days in the pool, with eating and enjoying being together with the family. Sunday morning we woke up early and drove with the landrover of my dad through the area around the farm to see some animals. I think one of the biggest differences of this Christmas was to have a hot Christmas which made me have a Christmas feeling very difficult and of course that I wasn’t around my German family. Even that I got a bit homesick in this time. I enjoyed the South African way of celebrating Christmas. It was an experience I never had before and I’m glad that I can make all these experiences in my year in South Africa.

Ingvild Tapio Kinge, Norway: Christmas – the time of snow, darkness and hot chocolate in front of the fireplace as Christmas carols and the smell of pastries fill the house. Or so I thought: Christmas Eve was anything but white and dark; it was sunny and warm, and my hot chocolate’s substitute was a class of water with clinking ice. Christmas Day was basically spent in my oom (uncle) and tannie’s (aunt) swimming pool with sunscreen dripping from our faces. Even though the surroundings didn’t match the Christmas I’m used to, family time is just as an important Christmas message here in SA as in Europe. As well as having a great time with the family, I was introduced to another uncle and his family, a mother-in-law and...! I realized how close I am to my family here and that SA has a really special place in my heart. Instead of missing home, as I expected I would, my mood leaped up and made me as happy as ever.


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Ingvild, her host sister Tryphena and a friend

I felt like really knowing my family, knowing their habits really well (and having got used to my new South African habits), understanding the language better – and even better, finally daring to practice it myself! So even if it feels like this year’s Christmas came and left without much hubbub, it gave my exchange year a lift and I am really having the time of my life. All the best for 2011!

In 2010 it was the first time that the Free State had inbound students from January (6 months and year students). That really resulted in a heartbroken time in December and January when students had to go back to their countries. Four students have left Bloemfontein since December and another one will leave soon. The good news is that two new students have arrived in Bloemfontein. Christoffer (Denmark) has been replaced in Bloem and a new volunteer for 'Ons Kinderhuis' arrived recently. Welcome to Christoffer and Lisette (the Netherlands). We trust that they will enjoy their stay in Bloem and will build up good memories. The school year started with a bang and our matriculates were so excited in starting a new year. They had to get some new school uniforms for this year because matriculates wear different school uniforms. We started this New Year off with a visit to the zoo! BUT this is a bit different. We went for a

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

Zoo snooze! We stayed overnight in a tent in the zoo. The Saturday evening they had a tour through the zoo when they were feeding the 'cat' species - lions, tigers, jaguars, cheetahs etc.

Lion cub on the stone at night

We went to bed very late and were awakened at sunrise by the roar of the lions. That was really a good experience! Before we went home we toured the zoo and enjoy the friendly monkeys and the deadly snakes and all animals in between! Luckily they all were behind 'bars'. We went over to my house and chilled there for the day!


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Camping at the zoo

Today all is back to normal again... the volunteers went to work and the students back to school! Ah man, why can't we always just have holidays and fun? Joubert Van Zyl, Regional Head of YFU Bloemfontein

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

We had an amazing four days with two volunteers and four exchange students. The volunteers were Pierre (Belgium) and Lizette (Netherlands) and the exchange students were Alexandre (Belgium), Lily (USA), Florian (Austria) and Simone (Austria). Along with myself, there were two other teamers helping with the orientation, Sabelo Mokgehle and Barbara Buitendach. Where to start? We were at our usual PAO venue, the beautiful Bundu Inn. Even with the constant overcast weather the students found plenty of interest in the surrounding nature, we had our resident implala and a really proud peacock! The first day we basically just got to know each other and we gave the students a few scares by telling them the water switches off at 18h00 and we have one toilet roll to share amongst ourselves for the next few days. This was all good fun and the expressions on their faces were priceless! After our dinner we played a few games and talked about South Africa on a social level. It was a nice way to end the night as everyone went to sleep.

The next day we were all up by 07h00 and we had started our first session by 08h00. The students were now being introduced to the beginning of their wonderful exchange period and being handed the little tools YFU offers to make your exchange very enjoyable. It was the usual discussions on host families, schools, safety and many more. On this night we played the YFU favourite “Werewolf”, and like past occasions it kept us up for hours and entertained. Everyone was very exhausted afterwards and it was lights out by 00h00. Again it was up by 07h00 and beginning of sessions at 08h00. We had our usual discussions, but we offered the students an opportunity to show to us South African culture in the form a show. So for most of the day they spent their time “preparing” or “mistakenly falling” into the pool. For dinner we had a lovely braai thanks to Rynette and her husband, Jottie! After the ever delicious braai we had the much anticipated show. It was filled with humour, of course, but there was one moment when Pierre (the bride) wore a veil, which he couldn’t see through and he walked right into the door :D! It sounded a lot worse then it actually was, but he left the scene unharmed and the show went on. Sabelo and I showed the students a traditional


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wedding dance which they enjoyed and almost even perfected. Like the previous night we had long hours of “Werewolf” and then off to sleep. On our last day all together we woke up an hour later than usual and we just had a relaxed day, bags were packed, the chalets were cleaned and once all of that was done...guess what? We played “Werewolf” again. It was during the game that the host families came to collect their new sons and daughters and a wonderful few days came to an end and the beginning of the rest of their lives started. Ngoako Mashitisho, Limpopo junior coordinator

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011


In my free time, I like to travel, to swim, to read and to spend time with my friends. I really enjoy my internship and I am sure that I will have a great time. I am really looking forward to meet a lot of people, work together with them and experience the South African culture. Imke, intern at YFU Gauteng

Mid-year orientation in PE

My name is Imke and I am from Germany. I am the new intern in the Gauteng region. I arrived in the middle of January and I will stay until the end of March. I was an exchange student in the USA in the program year 2002/2003. I had a great year and I want to share my experiences with others. After my return to Germany, I started to volunteer for YFU Germany. I volunteer in the inbound as well as in the outbound program, because I really like to work with the students. Usually, I study economics in Hanover, Germany, but I studied the last semester abroad in France.

It was very windy Friday afternoon that PE students and YFU volunteers started arriving to The Willows, some of them later than expected because robots were not working in the city. That didn’t take the excitement away – quite the opposite, students were full of energy and asking when we are going to start. In the meanwhile, very curious and playful velvet monkeys kept everybody entertained – jumping around, starring as people, fighting and screaming. Nine exchange students were taken care of by Regional head of YFU PE Mrs Iris Goeda, volunteers Keegan, Nosh, Elia, previous intern Gesa and current intern Monika. Eventually we gathered for tasty dinner and


Youth for Understanding South Africa International Youth Exchange

mid-year orientation has officially started. First session was held just after it evening – students kept reflecting on their positive experiences in South Africa. Listening to that, one could have just envy the exchange students: some had wonderful connection with the host families, some travelled to other provinces, some spoke about life-long friendships, new languages, dancing and sport activities. Undoubtedly everybody enjoyed Cape Tour. Students also completed their name acronyms, representing their positive experiences in South Africa. Soon it was time for sleep and everybody promised to be ready for breakfast at 8am on Saturday.

We managed to be on time and a long day started – students drew a graph of positives during the first half of exchange, followed by discussion and interrupted by a school of dolphins swimming by (everybody went outside trying to spot them!).

An energizer later, students gathered to reflect on negative experiences. This turned out to be a very long, serious and deep session – first students tried to find solutions for homesickness, difficulties with host families or host siblings, cultural shock, defining personal boundaries and few other problems their encountered during the time in South Africa. Iris gave explicit suggestions how to deal with every Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

negative experience, how to make communication easier both for students and host families, how to open up for once-in-alifetime opportunities and make the best of the rest of the exchange. As evaluation forms showed later on, this discussion on negative experiences was mostly appreciated by students, they said to have realized so many important things and been motivated. After great dinner we all left for a Boardwalk – not only to walk, but also to rally there!

Students were divided into three groups and had to do answer many questions and fulfil few tasks. They were running around the place trying to count the screens in the cinema, find


Youth for Understanding South Africa International Youth Exchange

the species of the fish in the pond and check how much euro is sold for. In the meantime, they also tried their best to trade egg and apple for something else, to shoot a music video, including banana and a towel in it. It was fun! Back in The Willows night felt short as we watching the videos/live music show of the students and chatting.

Cultural Exchange project threw some excitement in the air – Iris and Gesa (she has been to this project two years ago) were bombed with questions, so were few students who had a chance to experience township casual life already. Last exercise made everybody smile – students associated positive characteristics to each other. Birthday cake for Idris, celebrating his 18th birthday in few days and sunshine outside highlighted last hours of YFU PE mid-year orientation. Students were fetched by their hostfamilies and wished to make the best of the second half of their exchange year. Monika Skorupskaite, intern at YFU PE

Sunday morning we all needed an energizer thereafter Iris helped students to set new goals and find means to achieve these. Students were clearly reminded of the importance of YFU rules and all agreed to stick to those. Information on international YFU video contest and upcoming Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011


Youth for Understanding South Africa International Youth Exchange

Aware South Africa Temperature Respect for elders International Discovering life as South African

Family Respect Amazing Nature Zest Interesting Self-confidence Karate Accepting

Jesus Exercise Tradition Teacher English

Youth For Understanding South Africa Newsletter January 2011

Papsak African culture Bieber Justin Love Oreo

Awesomeness Speaking new languages Trying Roadtrip Independent Dancing

School Amazing Brother and sister Afrikaans

Patience African-English Unite Laughter Inside Never alone Integration Driving Rubber duck Interests Sky

Awesome Magic Experience Live Indian Ocean New Exploring


Profile for YFU South Africa

YFU South Africa Newsletter - January 2011  

In the first issue of 2011 we have in store: - Stories from interns - Experiences of the Cape Tour - An update of the JVC - PAO and...

YFU South Africa Newsletter - January 2011  

In the first issue of 2011 we have in store: - Stories from interns - Experiences of the Cape Tour - An update of the JVC - PAO and...