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YFU SOUTH AFRICA Newsletter December 2017

WELCOME Dear YFU Family, „Time flies when you‘re having fun“, they say – and time has indeed been flying in YFU South Africa! It‘s been an exciting, challenging and, overall, very successful year for us, so let‘s just take a few seconds to remember some of the highlights: We started the year by hosting the bi-annual International YFU Conference which was possibly the single largest event YFU SA has ever had the honour of hosting. Delegates from all over the world came together in Cape Town and our volunteers put on an amazing show, representing both our beautiful and diverse country and our organization. Later in the year, Rouet, who had been a volunteer for quite some time, joined us as a part-time staff member and also attended an international YFU training course in Spain. After saying good bye to our previous group of inbound students, we welcomed 32 new students and were lucky to place them with host families in many new areas all over South Africa, including Tsitsing, Thabazimbi, and Upington. Yet, new beginnings sometimes go hand in hand with farewells and it is with a heavy heart that we say good bye to our longest-serving staff member, Babs Visser, who will leave us in January. Babs, we wish you all the best for your hard-earned and well-deserved retirement – YFU SA will not be the same without you! Last but not least we‘d like to wish all our volunteers, students, host families, and partners a wonderful festive season and a happy new year! Warm regards, YFU South Africa


1. YFU Calendar for 2018 2. The Safari Tour 3. Arrival of our new inbound students 4. Placement of our inbound students 5. Tsitsing Community 6. First days at school 7. Post-Arrival Orientation 8. Being an exchange student in South Africa 9. Being an intern with YFU South Africa 10. YFU University Exchange to Stellenbosch 11. The Nature, Culture and Heritage Tour 12. Pre-Departure and Re-Entry Orientations 13. YFU Year End Braai 14.Good bye Babsi


What’s happening in YFU South Africa? 01 – 02 December

Re-Entry Orientation for 2017 semester inbound students

01 – 03 December

Pre-Departure Orientation for 2018 outbound students

22 December

Office closes for Christmas break

03 January

Office re-opens

04 January

Departure of 2018 outbound students

19 January

Arrival of 2018 inbound students

03 February

YFU volunteer training

09 – 11 February

Mid-Year Orientation for 2017-18 year inbound students

09 – 11 February

Post-Arrival Orientation for 2018 inbound students

April (tbd)

Kruger Tour (Bushward Safaris)

April (tbd)

KwaZulu-Natal Tour (Bushward Safaris)

25 – 27 May

Re-Entry Orientation for 2017-18 year students


On the 18th of July 2017, we drove to the Kruger National park to experience a wildlife and animal tour. During the first four days, we stopped at two different resorts, where we visited several viewpoints to see how beautiful South Africa truly is. On the fifth day, we finally got to the Kruger National Park. Rynette, the regional director of YFU, told us students that we could consider ourselves very lucky if we really see the Big Five. Surprisingly, on our first day, we saw four out of the Big Five. We were very happy about the way our adventure had started! On the next day, we had to get up at 5:30 a.m. to drive out as soon as the gate opened. That day we saw lots of elephants and we had lunch at a little restaurant.

SAFARI TOUR JUNE 2017 On our next day we were hoping that we could see a lion, because it was the only animal which was missing to complete the Big Five. However, we saw zebras, impalas and even coyotes, but there were no lions. So we drove back to get ready for a sunset drive, which was very interesting, because we saw lots of chameleons and some hyenas. It was also quite funny when an elephant wanted to cross the street exactly at that same place where our vehicle was parked. On our next day, we finally saw a lion. We were more than happy. In total, we saw one lion, one leopard, about ten rhinos, lots of elephants and lots of buffalos. After dinner our neighbours told us that they had seen a whole pride of lions! We immediately decided to drive along the same route they had taken. And really! The next day we drove there and saw the whole pride of lions. It was just incredible to see them there. On this short trip we were able to see a lot of South Africa and its animals. The experiences we gathered after these ten days were truly unbelievable. By Jakob Grander

ARRIVAL IN SOUTH AFRICA AUGUST 2017 The 27th of August was the big day. We arrived in Johannesburg and the first word, that ran through my head was just ''Wow". It was done, we were in South Africa, where we would spend the next 10 months of our life. My host family lives in Limpopo, so another girl from Germany and I caught a shuttle from Pretoria to Polokwane. To catch the shuttle, we were taken to a McDonalds parking. First, I was a bit confused, I thought maybe we would just take a break, but soon I should realized that our shuttle would depart from there. I have never seen a McDonalds as a bus stop before but it was awesome! The three hour drive was super exiting. I felt a bit anxious because I thought about my host family and couldn't wait to see them and, at the same time, I saw so many new things. I was full of new impressions and was afraid of not being able to remember everything. The first difference I noticed was the left-hand side traffic. It was so exciting to drive on the left side of the road for the first time in my life! There were palm trees everywhere and a blue, bue sky without any clouds, which made me feel like on holiday. Again and again little things caught my attention. People were standing on the highway and were waiting for a lift and others were sitting on the bed of pick-up trucks. But I also saw things I knew, like Shell petrol stations and Volkswagen and BMW cars. Although I saw all these new things I couldn't really believe yet, that this was the truth, that this was really happening. Sometimes I closed my eyes and wondered if it's just a dream or reality. Finally we arrived in Polokwane (at a McDonalds, again). A wonderful city, even after the rain. Our host families welcomed us very warmly and finally, I felt I had arrived and this big experience had become a reality. By Luisa Petrich



One of the many new developments in YFU SA in the past year was our co-operation with the Tsitsing community. Initiated by our volunteer Cheryl and Tsitsing’s young chief Koketso, six families decided to host exchange students. Upon arrival, the students were greeted with traditional food, singing, dancing, and even the village’s very own brass band! During their time in Tsitsing, the students had the opportunity to experience a different side of South Africa, far away from the leafy suburbs of our big cities. Thank you to all the families and community members in Tsitsing who opened their homes and hearts to our students and helped them through this new and sometimes challenging experience. We look forward to further developing our co-operation in the future! By Lena Gronbach



32 students from Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, France, the USA, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands met in Pretoria for their post-arrival orientation from 17-19 September. They came from all over SA, including small villages like Tsitsing and bigger cities like Pretoria and Cape Town, with busses, shuttles, cars and airplanes. During the weekend they discussed topics like culture, adjustment, school and family life, and set their goals for the upcoming months. Of course it was also an opportunity for our students to exchange experiences and spend time with the other students before returning to their host families in different parts of South Africa on Sunday. By Lena Gronbach

BEING AN EXCHANGE STUDENT IN SOUTH AFRICA I am Agáta and I am from Prague, Czech Republic. When I told someone I am going for a year to South Africa everyone thought I am crazy that I choose a destination like this. But I knew I want to experience something completely new and different for me. And even though nothing was the same as my expectations, South Africa is really a big new and exciting adventure! In South Africa I live in a small town called Ladysmith and that is the first difference from my home where I live in the capital city. I feel like everyone knows each other here and it always takes like 5 minutes to get anywhere. Another big change is the school. Students wear uniforms, school start at 7:30, hair always tied up, no phone allowed and so many other rules I wasn’t used to. The whole system is a bit different. I’ve experienced how differently their prom looks or how big thing it is to become a prefect or what exactly it means to be one, because I don’t have this at school in Prague.

BEING AN EXCHANGE STUDENT IN SOUTH AFRICA When you’re on an exchange the best thing to do is to get involved in as many things as possible. Especially here in South Africa when it comes to cultures. My host family is Afrikaans so I’ve already got to taste all their traditional food (boerewors or poetjie), attend church on Sunday, make homemade biltong or braai almost every time! They’ve also let me experience Diwali (Indian Christmas/New Year) with my indian friend. Then my other Zulu friend from school told me a little about her culture and I also went to a museum about Zulu culture and Boer war battles around my town. All these things are so interesting because most of them are totally new for me! And that is exactly why I chose South Africa and why it makes me happy to be here. By Agáta Vágnerová


Hello everyone! My name is Helena Kaim, I am 19 years old and I’m from Germany. I was an intern with YFU SA for 10 weeks, living and working with Rynette and helping her with the day-to-day office work. During my stay, I had the honor of teaming sessions at the PostArrival Orientation, and joined some of the students for the November tour in the Magaliesburg area. My home town is in the far north of Germany. Back home I mostly did school presentations about YFU and student interviews, and also some orientations for students and host families. My “exchange home” is in Michigan, USA, where I spent my exchange year in 2014/15. After my return to Germany I consider doing another internship abroad until I start my start my university studies in political science in the fall of 2018. By Helena Kaim

UNIVERSITY EXCHANGE TO STELLENBOSCH Hey guys, my name is Tessa and I am from Germany. I spent four and a half months in Stellenbosch and went to university there. I just finished high school last June and had no idea what I wanted to do afterwards, so I decided to do a gap year and spent time abroad. In the beginning of July, I packed my bags and flew to Cape Town. Of course, made a big mistake and didn’t bring warm clothes. The first week was freezing for me but I got used to it. I shared an apartment with three other girls, one American and two other Germans. In fact, 80% of the about 400 international students in Stellenbosch were from Germany. But the group of friends I ended up spending most of my time with, were two boys from Russia and France, and my American flatmate Amy. In the free time I has between my classes und the studying I went on hiking trips and to Cape Town or we just went for a walk and talked. Especially hiking was great for me because where I am from in Germany we don’t have mountains or hills so I really enjoyed hiking. Of course I didn’t only come to find new friends and see a different country, I also came to study. The courses I took were Political Science, Physiology and Afrikaans. I actually passed Afrikaans with 75% which means I passed with cum laude! I’m still waiting for the results for my other two courses, but it I can say that the final exams were pretty difficult in comparison to the mid-term tests.

UNIVERSITY EXCHANGE TO STELLENBOSCH In the end, my stay in South Africa helped me to figure out what I want to study when I go back to Germany: I want to study English and Biology to become a teacher and if that doesn’t work out I will study social sciences. I also explored new heights in terms of cultural, personal, school and family achievements. At the end of my stay in South Africa I spent some time in Pretoria and stayed with different host families. I also went to KwaZulu-Natal for 10 days before going back to Germany in mid-December. All in all, I would describe being on exchange like hiking: It goes up and down, left and right, sometimes slower and sometimes faster. But it is a great experience! By Tessa Korte


In November this year we organized a 5-day trip in and around the Magaliesburg/ Hartbeespoort area for the first time – and it was a roaring success! We stayed at the tranquil and beautiful Stone Hounds Lodge, owned by the host family of one of our students. They made us feel right at home and spoilt us with their delicious food and their lovely venue. However, we had a busy programme so there was no time to sit still and get bored. On the first day we started off with a ziplining tour, followed by a tour of the Sterkfontein Caves and a visit to the Cradle of Humankind. On day two we visited a monkey sanctuary where we could see and interact with a variety of monkeys – and even a tortoise that joined us for our walk! In the afternoon we hiked through the Hennops Valley and finished the day with a refreshing swim in the pool.

NATURE, CULTURE AND HERITAGE TOUR The next day took us to Pilanesberg and Sun City where we spotted many different animals and had fun in the Valley of the Waves with its many – and sometimes scary – slides. As most of us were still exhausted from all the swimming even on the next morning, we went on a leisurely educational game drive at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Sanctuary. We even experienced a pack of wild dogs chasing our vehicle – fortunately we didn’t end up as their breakfast. Afterwards we visited the van Gaalen cheese farm where we learned how to make cheese and tasted their delicious apple crumble. We ended our day with a cultural tour and performance at Lesedi Cultural Village, followed by a true African feast. On our last day we said good bye to our hosts at Stone Hounds Lodge and ended the tour with a tubing and boat trip on Hartbeespoort. All in all, it was an exciting and fun-filled experience and we discovered many of the hidden gems the region has to offer. By Lena Gronbach


PRE-DEPARTURE AND MID-YEAR ORIENTATIONS On the first weekend of December, two YFU orientations took place: Patrick and Peder, who will go on exchange to Germany next year, had their pre-departure orientation, and Lene and Anne, who have been on exchange in South Africa for 5 months, had their re-entry orientation. The orientations took place Joy Unspeakable Camp, a new venue by a dam just outside of Pretoria, which we will definitely use again in the future. In addition to our volunteers, Rynette and her granddaughter – who is also our youngest YFU member and prospective exchange student – joined our students and made sure everyone was happy, comfortable, and well fed. At the same time, another pre-departure orientation took place in Cape Town from where Teagan will be leaving for Switzerland soon. By Lena Gronbach


GOOD BYE BABS Unfortunately, new beginnings sometimes go hand in hand with having to say good bye – and this year is one of those years for YFU SA. After many years (too many to even start counting), our beloved Babs is leaving our organization to enjoy her hard-earned and well-deserved retirement. She has been the heart and soul of our Cape Town office for as long as most of us can remember and her humour and her incredible ability to remember anything and everything about our past and present students, host families and schools have become legendary in YFU SA. Babs, you will be sorely missed and we hope that you will remain a part of YFU even after leaving the office. We wish you all the best for this new chapter in your life – and knowing you we know that you will make the best of whatever life throws at you. Hopefully, one of these things will be a fluffy little corgi to keep you company as you enjoy your new life without your daily dose of 200 YFU emails! Your YFU South Africa family


Last but not least,  we wish all of you  a merry Christmas and  a happy new year! Have a wonderful festive  season and see you in 2018!


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YFU Office in Pretoria

YFU Office in Cape Town

Phone: +27 12 547 0312 Mobile: +27 82 464 3957

Phone: +27 21 906 4929 Mobile: +27 82 337 3563

E-Mail: Rynette Scholtz (Regional Director)

E-Mail: Nina Voges (National Director)

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YFU Newsletter December 2017  
YFU Newsletter December 2017