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YFU SOUTH AFRICA Newsletter June 2017


Dear YFU Family, It‘s been a while since we sent out our last newsletter and a lot has happened in the YFU world since then. We are very excited to present you some of the highlights of the last few months and to give you a glimpse of what our students, host families and volunteers have been up to. But what‘s happening in YFU South Africa right now? Yes, you might have already guessed it: It‘s time for our annual Host Family Hunt! Our new inbound students from all over the world are ready to depart on the adventure of a lifetime and to experience our beautiful country with all its cultures, languages and wonderful people. However, this will not be possible without the support of loving and caring host families who are willing to share their homes and hearts with our students. Unfortunately, many of our students are still waiting for „their“ host family – and just imagine their disappointment if they were told there was no family for them! But we won‘t let that happen, right? Spread the word and talk to your family, friends, colleagues, people at church or in your community! We will be happy to provide you with info material, do a presentation at your school or workplace, or to simply follow up with anyone who might be interested. Let‘s do this! We. look forward to hearing from you, be it with host family leads, contributions to our next newsletter, or feedback on this one! Warm regards, YFU South Africa


1. The Cape Tour 2. The Mid-Year Orientation 3. School experiences 4. The Cultural Exchange 5. University Exchange in Stellenbosch 6. The YFU International Conference 2017 7. Kruger Park Educational Tour 8. Thoughts on South Africa and its People 9. Impressons of South Africa 10. A Farewell by our Intern


What’s happening in YFU South Africa? 17-25 June

Departure of 2016-17 inbound students

07-09 July

Pre-Departure Orientation for 2017-18 outbound students

Tbd August

Departure of 2017-18 outbound students

26 August

Arrival of 2017-18 inbound students

15-17 September

Post-Arrival Orientation for new inbound students

Tbd Sept/Oct

Cultural Exchange

28 October

Host Family Fun Day

18-28 November

Cape Tour

If you would like to help out at one of our orientations or assist with departures or arrivals at the airport, please contact – we can always use an extra pair of helping hands!


The Cape Tour - Probably the YFU tour most of us really looked forward to. It was the end of November when a group of around 15 of us got together and started a roadtrip towards the Cape, organized by Bushward Safaris. We made several stops in small towns like Kimberley and Oudshorn where we visited a mine, the Cangoo Caves and an ostrich farm. We drove further towards the Tsitsikamma National Park where we spent some days in the most amazing nature I have ever seen. It is completely green and the water is clear blue. We went on a segway tour, on a canopy tour through the woods, did some kajaking on the sea between the rocks and spent some nice time at the beaches. When we finally arrived at our big destiantion - Cape Town - we did pretty much all the nice things you can do when you are in Cape Town: Table Mountain, Robben Island, the Waterfront, the Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. On our last evening, we went up to Signal Hill where we saw all the lights of Cape Town during the night. It was a perfect end to a perfect tour. I think no one of us will ever forget all the beautiful things we saw and did in those two weeks!


The YFU Mid-Year Orientation was held at our usual venue, Die Hoekie, from the 27th until the 29th of January. Students came from all over South Africa, we even had our student placed in Cape Town fly all the way to Pretoria for the weekend. During the weekend we also welcomed our semester students Rocio and Zoe (from Argentina) and Martin and Julian (from Austria). They got to meet the other students, and also got to spend their first nights in South Africa at the orientation venue. A Post-Arrival Orientation was held for them, while the rest of the students had their Mid-Year Orientation. The weekend fly by with sessions, games, discussions, free time, ice-breakers and a quiz about South Africa that the students mastered brilliantly. It was a great weekend with students and volunteers getting together, having fun and enjoying each others company. By Fanny Forsbom


Morning assemblies with standing in rank and file, changing classes every 30 minutes and praying when school starts and finishes are completely normal things in my doublemedium “host high school� here in South Africa, but it took me a while to get used to all these new customs. I will therefore write about the five biggest differences between my Austrian and my South African high schools. The first and absolutely new experience for me was to wear a school uniform every day. Whereas the majority of Austrian schools reject the idea of wearing school uniforms, South African high schools are very proud of theirs. The uniforms unite students of a school as one and create equality and a big group feeling. Secondly, a normal school day for me starts with the morning assembly in front of the school building where all students have to stand in rank and file in order to listen to the announcements for the day.


During assembly I also experienced a third difference: For the purpose of starting the school day all people pray together for a good school day and for having good marks in exams. A prayer also ends the school day at about quarter to two where everybody thanks God for His help in exams and learning. The fourth big difference is the changing of classrooms every 30 minutes. Whereas Austrian students change their classes maximum two or three times within 6 hours, South African students are changing all the time. I personally like this walking between the periods due to the fresh air and the exercise one gets. Fifth, South African students love to share their meals and snacks. If one buys a package of “NikNaks” or “chips” then it is taken for granted that he or she will share his food in order to let everybody enjoz a small snack for break. This tradition is absolutely worth admiring and I really learned that sharing is one of the most important and beautiful things. To conclude, I really have to say that I learned to love the daily South African school days and I will definitely miss all the customs of my host high school when I return to my school in Austria. Being an exchange student and getting to know so many new traditions is a unique experience which one will definitely remember for a very very long time. By Julian Jöri


In March, 22 of us went on a “Cultural Exchange” to experience the rural life in South Africa. We stayed in an area called Malelane, close to the borders to Swaziland and to Mozambique. We were split into six groups staying at different schools and I was placed in a village called Kamhlushwa. My host family was very nice and made me feel welcome immediately. I had a host mother, father, two sisters (18 and 12) and two brothers (21 and 2 months). The first big difference I experienced was at church: The service was four hours long and people were crying, screaming and falling down on to the floor. The prophet (the pastor) then grabbed the people and shouted: “In the name of Jesus let the demons leave you”. It is believed that some people have evil spirits in them and the prophet can take them away. There was also a lot of singing and dancing and I liked that part a lot.


Second big difference: School. We had classes from 6am until 4pm. Even on Saturdays. The teachers tended to come and go as they please but the school work was the same as in my school in Middelburg. Interacting with the other learners was also very different: I always thought Spanish people wereloud but that is like comparing a mouse to an elephant. There is no comparison! Because I am white everybody wanted to take pictures with me (even following me to the bathroom) and I got a proposals from boys from the age of 5 up to men of the age of 70. In the first week they were only writing test and in the second week we realised that we couldn’t handle the classes (they were in Siswati), so we spent most of our time in the library. The daily life was also very different. My family didn’t have running water, so we always had to fetch water from outside. To bath we used a bucket which we also used as a toilet. I struggled a lot bathing in a few cups of water. So I decided to get my hair braided so that you couldn’t see that I didn’t wash my hair for two weeks. That was the plan but it looked horrible, still. For breakfast we always had bread and meat/eggs which was fried in a lot of oil. At school the learners got free food from the kitchen, and for some it was their only meal of the day. But the teachers were so nice to us that they always prepared a lot of extra food for us. And at home for dinner we always had pap (the maize porridge) and chicken. Here, everybody eats with their hands, which is actually a lot easier than eating with a knife and fork!


In most families, the daughters are in charge of the household: Cooking, cleaning, washing clothes etc. I was too lazy to wash my clothes so I thought because I was dirty anyway my dirty clothes wouldn’t make that much of a difference! Please don’t judge me . A nice experience was that we could walk outside and it was safe, which is something I could never ever do in Middelburg. But it did take a while for me to get used people following me and talking to me whenever I went somewhere. For some people I was the first white person they had ever seen in in the village. The teachers also took us to the Kruger National Park one day, which was really really nice. We saw some elephants, rhinos, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, crocodiles, hippos, antilopes... But my personal highlight were the monkeys that were trying to steal all of our food! On our last day, the teachers drove us to Swaziland: We just went in and out to get the stamps in our passports and a few pictures (we couldn’t stay there longer because our host siblings didn’t have passports so they were waiting outside). I really wanted to get something from Swaziland so I just bought some toothpaste 


Those two weeks were really interesting. It really made me understand what I value and what not. I am so glad I went on that exchange and I do not regret the experience at all. But I was also hapy when we were finally back in the bus and on our way back to ”our” lives. It was an experience that I will never forget. I am grateful for the opportunity that we had and so thankful for the host family welcoming me and the teachers who took cae of us at school. By Clara Söckler Sanchez


Howzit, I'm Lisa and currently on exchange at Stellenbosch University. I'm here for two semesters to explore student life in South Africa. It's been one of the greatest years of my life and Stellenbosch is the perfect place to get to know awesome people very quickly. When I'm not at lectures or writing exams, you can find me hiking up some beautiful mountains or you might find me on one of the many wine farms in the area tasting divine wine. Stellenbosch, located in the Winelands and surrounded by mountains, is the perfect place for such leisure activities. From here it is only half an hour into Cape Town so I've been exploring the Cape Town area such as Table Mountain, Camps Bay and the waterfront as well. During the semester I'm rather busy, going to psychology, sociology and photography lectures, which are lectured in both English and Afrikaans and which allowed me to pick up the Afrikaans language quite quickly. My basic Afrikaans skills enabled me to connect with the many Afrikaans speaking people in Stellenbosch as well.


After each term and each semester there is a break, so I was able to travel to Pretoria and Johannesburg where I spent Christmas and New Year's Eve with a host family. This gave me the opportunity to experience both student and family life in South Africa and even though those two parts of my exchange were very different, they are both experiences I would not have wanted to miss out on. On my trips around South Africa I got to go shark cage diving with great white sharks, ride an elephant on the Garden Route and cuddle with lion cubs, so as you can see South Africa is the perfect place to encounter wildlife! Currently, I'm living in a residence on campus and have to prepare for exams but that does not keep me from meeting with my friends and having fun at famous Stellenbosch festivals on weekends. I'm more than grateful that I could experience all this and I have made friends I will always keep in touch with. If I could I wouldn't go back to Germany but rather stay here forever. I'm truly in love with this country! By Lisa Barnikel


From 16 to 19 March 2017, YFU SA had the honour of hosting the bi-annual international YFU conference in Cape Town – it was the first time the event took place in Africa. About 106 delegates from more than 60 countries attended the conference at the Strand Towers hotel in Cape Town. The conference started off on the 16th with Africa’s YFU Leadership Summit. The aim of the summit was to connect various civil society leaders within Africa so that, together with YFU, civil society partnerships could be formed to facilitate the introduction of exchange programs in Africa. In the evening, the official opening of the conference took place. Our volunteers put together a show-stopper evening depicting the various South African cultures. The Ikamva marimba band that performed afterwards had everyone up and dancing and contributed to an overwhelming atmosphere of goodwill and cooperation that remained throughout the conference.


The next two days of the conference focused on formulating new guidelines for the development of new strategies and implementing the new working structures within YFU was discussed. The manner in which YFU’s missions and values are reflected in our working culture was also on the agenda. The conference was, however, not only hard work, but also gave our guests the opportunity to enjoy what the Cape has to offer: On the Friday evening, delegates could choose from food and music at Mamma Africa in Long Street, Cape Malay cuisine at Bismallah in Wale Street or from various options at the Waterfront. Saturday evening was the highlight of the conference with our gala dinner at Simon’s Restaurant at Groot Constantia wine farm. Fine dining and excellent company ensured a memorable evening enjoyed by all. It was a fitting end to a conference enjoyed by all. Well done to all involved! By Nina Voges


The YFU Kruger Educational Tour, organized by Bushward Safaris: Safari rides while spotting wildlife, bush walks, sunsets and sunrises. We managed to see all of the Big Five, which includes an elephant, a lion, a rhino, a buffalo and a leopard. We also saw plenty of other animals such as a hippo, giraffe, zebra and a baboon. On the Panorama Route we visited many amazing wonders of nature, such as Blyde River Canyon and waterfalls. Before going back home we also went river rafting in a river that had crocodiles and hippo´s living in there. What a wonderful and exciting experience! By Marika Kauppinen


I have now been living in south Africa for eight months and at several occasions I have been asked both by South Africans and by people back home: “What do you think of the people of South Africa?” It is a good question, yet, I usually have trouble answering it. Because while there are a million things to say about South Africans, it is quite difficult to jam it all together into a simple summary. South Africa has been nicknamed the rainbow nation, prominently because of the astonishing diversity in cultures, groups of people and ways of living. I have seen many sides of this beautiful country, and while the differences are obvious, I full-heartedly believe there are certain traits almost all south Africans share. If we look back in history, the people living in the south of Africa did not belong to states or borders, but rather to chiefdoms or tribes. There is a total of eleven official languages in South Africa (excluding sign language), most of them originating from different African societies. As colonization became a reality, European languages and culture also became a part of the mix. All these different people were more or less part of separate fractions, but as time passed, borders started to shape the country into what we now call South Africa. The problem is that just because you put a line around some land and claim that everyone inside is part of the same country, it doesn’t mean that the people inside will necessarily feel a sense of fellowship.


Even today, people will often feel an attachment to their old heritage. I would claim that the majority in this country see themselves as maybe Afrikaans, Zulu or Tswana more than as South African. This lack of unity was of course reinforced by the segregation policies of the past. I have had the privilege of living both in a township and a suburb. I have gone to a school where all subjects were taught in Afrikaans, and I have spent two weeks living with a family in a rural area in Mpumalanga. I have been able to spend time and get to know people from completely different paths of life. I have seen first-hand some of the vast contrasts this country holds, and I believe all these experiences have helped me gain a broader and better perspective on what it means to be South African. So what am I talking about? Well, no matter where I went, or who I was with, I was always welcomed with open arms. Pretty much all the South Africans I have met, possessed a remarkable openness and forthcomingness. And don’t think I mistake this friendliness for just superficial politeness. South Africans are genuine people that show true interest and concern for you. I am a visitor in this country, an outsider. Yet, regardless of where I am or who I am with, in just a few moments, I feel like I belong here. Like I am part of these people. As long as you keep an open mind and maintain a respectful attitude, South Africans will take you in, and treat you like one of their own.


South Africa has, without a doubt, many problems. And, unfortunately, tension and mistrust between different types of people is still one of them. This sad reality is what I find the most frustrating about South Africa, because I have seen with my own eyes, the love that all South Africans can give. I believe that the greatest characteristic of South Africans is their ability to open up, bond, and create true connections. If every South African treated each other with only half of the openness and respect I have received, I am convinced the people would feel the same way I feel, and the country would truly become a better place. Because a collection of colours is not a rainbow before they come together and create something beautiful By Olve Solberg


You know you are in South Africa when.. • • • • • • • • • • • •

there are 11 official languages in the country and even more different cultures people may sing and dance at any time people don't use seat belts white bread is eaten a lot braaiing is a common pastime you can say 'now' or 'now now’ or ’just now’ people eat all parts of chicken (sometimes including bones) people use umbrellas for the sun instead of the rain bathing is more common than showering you can see minibuses aka taxis everywhere you can eat have a meal at a restaurant for only 50 rands (=3 euros)

• • • • • •

you don't need to bag your own groceries the most common car is a bakkie almost all cars are white people call each other 'black', 'white', 'colored' , 'Indian' etc there are a lot of problems in the country but...people are friendly (and noisy haha!)

By Marika Kauppinen


Heya! I arrived back in South Africa a good 10 months ago and my time here is sadly coming to an end. I was in SA as an exchange student in 2013-2014. After my exchange year, I ame back for a few months to visit my family, and this time I came back for an internship. I arrived at the end of August last year, spent a month with my host family back in Tzaneen and then started my awesome internship in Pretoria. In Pretoria I stay at the Regional Director´s (Rynette or more commonly known as Mamma Nettie) house, and it´s been great having the opportunity to be a part of another South African family. We have a home office and working from home definitely has its perks! I mean, who wouldn´t enjoy sitting under the South African sun, sipping some coffee while working with your laptop. Of course we are also out of the office quite often: Doing school, family or student visits, participating in different types of events, doing orientations or just out and about finding new host families. I also got to participate the YFU International conference as an intern. The conference was held this year in Cape Town – which made for an awesome little trip to the southernmost part of Africa. After the conference, I also had the opportunity to travel a bit and I visited Lisa, our university student in Stellenbosch, and other amazing places.


During this year I also visited Kenya with my natural parents who flew all the way from Finland for a holiday, I went to a festival in Durban, and visited my previous host family back in Tzaneen many times (still feels like home!). I´ve spent time with great people while enjoying the warm sun, cold drinks, good humour, views and nature and just a good vibe in general. My time here has truly been amazing, and I realized that I am way too used to African time with all the ”now now”s that I hope I won´t miss my flight back on the 1st of June. Alright, but on a more serious note, I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my happy happy times here in SA. I am also very happy to say that it´s only a ”see you soon”, since I am planning on coming back next year again for a longer period. Excited! Cheers for now, and remember that everything in this universe is either a potato or not a potato! By Fanny Forsbom


And, last but not least, we would like to say good bye to our 2016/17 group of inbound students and to wish them a safe trip back to Germany, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Finland and Argentina. We hope you enjoyed your time here in South Africa and, judging from the amazing stories you wrote for this newsletter, we are sure your time with us was exciting, memorable, inspiring, thought-provoking, challenging, and full of unforgettable memories. Africa smiled a little when you left. “We know you,” Africa said, “we have seen And watched you, we can learn to live without you, But we know we needn’t yet.” And Africa smiled a little when you left. “You cannot leave Africa,” Africa said. “It is always with you, there inside your head. Our rivers run in currents, in the swirl of your thumbprints; Our drumbeats counting out your pulse, Our coastline, the silhouette of your soul.” So Africa smiled a little when you left. “We are in you,” Africa said. “You have not left us, yet.” By Bridget Dore


Comments, contributions, suggestions? Get in touch with us!

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 South Africa - Newsletter June 2017  
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