Lien's Volunteer Journey Part 1

Hi, I’m Lien, a 20-year-old student from Belgium. I am currently doing my final internship in Port Elizabeth with Khaya Volunteer Projects. I’ve been here for a while now and I thought it was about time to tell you about my experience.

I came to South Africa a while back to work in the Khaya office and to assist with the online marketing and social media. A day in my life as an intern consists of me going to work at 8h30 in the morning and coming back at around 2 in the afternoon. I say coming and going, but really, I don’t have to go far, I’m just a little walk through the backyard away from the office. Once in the office, I work on getting and creating new content and making posts for our social media channels. I also write blogposts for our website and basically just try to assist wherever I can. As I am a tourism student, I, for example, I also help in organizing the volunteer outings that happen during the weekends.
One of my favorite parts of this job is getting content, by doing this I get to see all the different projects and I can learn about all the amazing things the projects can do with the help of our volunteers. It’s very rewarding to see, that all the hard work of everyone in this company, both employees, as well as volunteers, is really paying off and is really making a change.

Working at the office and with South African people is interesting. It is completely different than what I am used to in Belgium. It’s not as structured and people are way more relaxed. It’s a weird thing and especially the first period of my time here, it was a bit difficult for me, but after a while you get used to it and then it’s fun.

South Africa, in general, was one big surprise for me. I had never been here before and I did not know what to expect. Of course, I heard stories and of course Europeans have some sort of idea about Southern Africa, but before you come here, you don’t know what is true and what isn’t.
It is completely different here, then what I had expected it to be. I like living here a lot, I really really do.

Considering the fact that I didn’t really know anything about South Africa before I came here, I decided to do as much as possible, to really experience the country. Port Elizabeth may not be the biggest and most known city of the country, that doesn’t mean it isn’t pretty or that there is nothing to do here. There is always something going on in or around PE and you will always find an activity to do during the weekends. There’s the tourist things, like Addo, Kragga Kamma, Tsitsikamma, taking a boat trips to spot some whales and dolphins, or go to the penguin rehabilitation center, and then there’s local things, like markets, small bars, festivals, and days at the beach. There’s enough to do to fill up my 15 weekends in this city.

I am so far really enjoying my time here in South Africa. The country is amazing, and the people here are all very nice, living in the volunteer house is an absolute blast and I am just very happy to be here. I’m pretty sure my 15 weeks here will fly by quick.

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