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Newsletter YFU South Africa March 2014

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Two weeks of beautiful nature, sightseeing and as always if YFU exchange students come together, looooooots of fun! The Cape Town trip 2013 was one of the most memorable times during my exchange year in South Africa and I want to share a few of the best things of it with you! Day 1 Most of us met in Pretoria already at five in the morning with packed suitcases, still a little tired but very excited. We said goodbye to our host families and got into the bus to Joburg where we picked up a few other exchange students. Our trip was organized by Bushward Safaris and our guide Riaan had planned everything for us. We drove about 16 hours to our first stop with short breaks and arrived in our first backpacker accommodation late in the evening. There we met another girl who is staying in Cape Town. Day 2 We packed the bus and left for our very first activity which was Kango Caves where we had a nice tour underneath the ground. Then, we went to an Ostrich Farm where we learned a lot about these huge birds, got the chance to sit on them and some of us even rode them. After Lunch we drove a few hours to our new accommodation in Tsitsikamma where we stayed either in tents or inside. In the evenings we did groups activities.

Cape Town Tour 2013

Day 3 This was one of the best days during the tour. In the morning we did a Canopy Tour (where you slide up to 30 m over the ground on a rope from one tree to another) And then we had to choose two of the following: • Elephant Sanctuary • Cats • Monkey land I‘ve decided to go to the Elephant Sanctuary where we were allowed to walk with elephants, feed them and got to know these beautiful animals from a close distance. Afterwards, we drove to the Cats where we had a tour and went into some of their cages, which was very exciting and incredible at the same time.  Day 4 We finally headed towards Cape Town with a few stops at different places, for example the biggest South African tree or the world‘s highest bungee jumping bridge. We arrived late at our hostel in CT and then we just played some cards in the evening (one of our favorite activities!) and afterwards we went to bed. Day 5 In the morning we did some really nice group activities at the beach, but after an hour it seemed like CT wanted to remind us where we were and it started to rain heavily. At noon we drove with a boat to Seal Island and it was great fun because the waves were really strong.   Day 6 First we went to the two Ocean Aquarium and afterwards we split up into smaller groups and drove with the “Red Line Bus“ through CT, where you could get off on important places, for example Camps Bay or the South African Museum.

Cape Town Tour 2013

Day 7 A very special day during our exchange year was today. It is the 6th of December 2013, Nikolaus and Nelson Mandela‘s obit. And for our surprise our activities of the day were the Parliament and Robben Island, both linked to South Africa‘s former president. Both were very interesting, but for me Robben Island was impressive and it was great to be showed around by an former prisoner. Afterwards we had a conduct through Green-Point-Stadium and Riaan organized for those who wanted to watch the soccer match in the evening could go. The atmosphere was great and Ajax Cape Town won 3:I. Day 8: A must-do if you are in Cape Town is Table Mountain, the weather was great and we could see whole Cape Town from the top, I could have stayed there all day long, but we had more plans for the day. We drove to Cape Point, got off and went to the top where it was very windy. Then we walked to Cape of Good Hope and after a few hours of walking on the windiest place I‘ve ever been to, we got back on the bus. Everyone was very happy!  Day 9 + Day 10 The last two days were just driving back to Pretoria, with one night stop. The Cape Town Tour was a great experience with lots of fun and memorable moments.

Cape Town Tour 2013

This Year the Mid Year Orientation was held at “die Hookie“ in Pretoria. All exchange students had time to share different experiences, adventures and were able to gain new information about their exchange year. There was not only time to discuss negative and positive things, but also time to play cards or go for a swim. Each student had the chance to talk to other exchange students and share their individual stories. The mix of different personalities and cultures always contribute to make the MYO very unique and special for the students. Laura Sinnhuber

Mid-Year Orientation 24th-26th January

(January) We would like to welcome our new student from New Zealand, her name is Amy and she will be staying in South Africa for one year. Let‘s hope she will have a good time. YFU wishes her good luck and lots of great experiences. “I love it here, its so different to New Zealand. I love my school and everyone in it. Its such a rich culture which i love learning about... even now when i think about going home i want to cry.“ Amy Jackson

“Amy came with us on holiday and we were sitting on the balcony with the ocean view, talking about sea creatures. I told her that in Afrikaans we call a shark a “haai“ she looked really confused and answered “but sharks can‘t talk.“ Hostfamily

Amy at Ushaka Marine World KZN

New student Amy from New Zealand


South Africa - not only a rainbow nation, but also a ”rainbow cuisine” Trying some delicious traditional African food is part of every exchange student’s daily life. And as some of our students have experienced rather rough starts for both their emotions and stomachs, others take it more with curiosity and keep trying the new “rainbow cuisine” on a daily basis, where each dish reflects one or more of the different cultural influences found across the continent. Traditional African food is generally cooked over an open fire or in a three-legged pot (or potjie), so meat tends to be served in either stewed or grilled form. A starch usually accompanies the meat: mieliepap (maize porridge), potatoes or rice. Beetroot, carrots, cabbage and pumpkin are the vegetables most commonly served. For sure by now you all had, some nice sweet koeksisters, pap and boerewors, biltong or for the more adventurous amongst you it might have been some grilled chicken feet and heads – known as walkie-talkies – as it is a popular dish in rural South Africa, or you got to enjoy a nice piece of cow stomach - specially slaughtered and served for you ☺ (but be careful it should be white, not brown / indicating how well it was cleaned before be served!) “So I came home and was starving, I don’t know why but I’m always hungry, so I go to the kitchen and look around, opening the cupboards, and I find what I believe must be South African version of NicNac’s, you know these crunchy peanuts, I opened the can and look at them closer / shoo they were black, … but hey I think, hej we are in South Africa, so why not black NicNac’s, and I eat and eat and eat… eventually finding my hostmom coming into the room, smiling at me and commenting on how nice she finds it that I like the mopane worms….. “ Ray Asholt

Rainbow Cuisine

As we say in German “Liebe geht durch den Magen” [The way to the heart is through the stomach], so the only real way to experience South African culture in the whole complexity it comes, is by eating your way through it, and getting to looooooove it (and NO we don’t worry about the weight we put on, it’s a sacrifice every exchange student has to bring….) Biggest challenge ahead: to show your fellows back home what a real South African Braai is like.

SHORT GUIDE TO TRADITIONAL SOUTH AFRICAN FOODS (source Wikipedia) Biltong, a salty dried meat (similar to jerky), although the meat used is often from different types of Antelope or other venison. Boerewors, a sausage that is traditionally braaied (barbecued). Melktert (milk tart), a milk-based tart or dessert. Koeksisters come in two forms and are a sweet delicacy. Afrikaans koeksisters are twisted pastries, deep-fried and heavily sweetened. Koeksisters found on the Cape Flats are sweet and spicy, shaped like large eggs, and deep-fried. Mopane worm, is a species of moth found in much of Southern Africa, whose large edible caterpillar, the mopani or mopane worm, is an important source of protein for millions of indigenous Southern Africans.

Salome celebrates her birthday with her host family and friends. For her surprise, she got a unique birthday cake for her 17th birthday. Happy birthday Salome!

17th Birthday Salome Blou

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The thing I‘d like to say about sport, is something about the school spirit. When it all comes down to it, it doesn‘t matter if it is athletics, netball, rugby, soccer or cricket, there is always the spirit, something I think many European countries are missing. Because sport is a part of school, it gives the learners something they all can cheer for, together. Besides that the learners that do sport have something to encourage themselves in school. Many learners that are not academically strong still have a field where they can show their features. A place where they also can experience the success, others may find in the classrooms. So sport is something that brings the school together and it also gives some learners the opportunity to shine. Sport is an open, free activity in school and a way of representing the school.

School Sports

Fabian Bettenhausen with his host brother. Jonas Temba Conrad and Sophie Buschmann

Amy Jackson

Mariesa Wille with her friends.

STORY BY SOPHIE BUSCHMANN In my exchange year in South Africa I experienced a lot of completely different but wonderful times. One of them was around Valentine. Valentine’s Day is a big thing here. This day of love is everywhere! Doesn’t matter if friends or family, everyone gives little presents or just a lot of hugs. In the school we were allowed to wear casual clothes and the break was longer, to have a little program with fashion- and talent shows. You could buy flowers or chocolate, even rulers with little messages and a lot more. But that was nothing compared to the Valentine’s ball. The Valentine‘s ball from my school was awesome. Everyone was so beautiful and we had a lot of fun. Our school band was playing; the people were dancing and enjoying each other’s company with a little snack. It was the first Valentine’s ball of my school but it was a big success. A lot of people were there and had a great time. I will never forget that wonderful evening and all the other moments around Valentine’s Day.

Prune Bouillot attending her first ball ever, the Valentine‘s Ball. The school head boy asked her to be his date for the night. She looked stunning and was crowned as the best female dresser for the 2014 Valentine’s Ball.

Valentine‘s Ball

The Mpumalanga region is representative of a very unique part of our country’s multi-cultural composition – it is mainly a semi-rural, African setting, and by offering our inbound students an opportunity to live with selected hostfamilies and attend school here, they can experience this aspect of South African life. Most of our students are placed in urban environments, and many of them do not experience the way black South Africans, especially in regions outside of the major metropolitan areas, live. Attending the local high schools in Mpumalanga, will further more add to the students’ overall impression of schooling and ways of living in South Africa, and hopefully instill an appreciation for our country’s different cultures, languages and lifestyles. It promises to be a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Schools involved: Samora Machel High School, Legebhuta High School, Hlanganani High School, Mambane High School, Tikhuni High School, Mandlesive High School, Mthombo High School STORY BY LISA HÖHN Sawubona! – Ebo! This is the typical greeting in the SiSwati language that I, Lisa, an intern from Germany, used to say everyday for the last two weeks. But I did not just experience the SiSwati language, but also many other patterns of traditional South African culture during the Cultural Exchange that I didn’t know before. The village where I lived, Mbuzini, is located right next to the borders of Swaziland and Mozambique. Since the village is on top of a mountain, you get to see a beautiful landscape and lots of pretty sunsets. The family I stayed with was bigger than what I am used to. Since I have only one brother in Germany, it was a big change for me that my host family consisted of five host brothers, two sisters, the parents, a sister-in-law and a nephew. I was glad I experienced the great cohesion and love of that family. Even though half of them work in different towns in South Africa, they always come back to their family members in the rural area. Their house has a corrugated iron roof, and it’s not just one house, but a lot of little houses. Even though my host family had a TV and electricity, they did not have a shower or a flush toilet. Nor did they have tab water, they got the water from their neighbors or carried it back from the river on their heads.

Cultural Exchange (21


February-7th March 2014)

As an intern at YFU I didn’t go to the rural school as a student, but I helped out with teaching and some office work. The way of teaching there is very different to European teaching. It seems like the students just repeat what the teacher is saying, so they don’t really learn to question things. The relationship between student and teacher is very different as well. They are basically friends and the students like to bring their teachers food during lunch break to say thank you for what they are doing for them. To continue with the food, it is more or less the same every day, but pap is part of every meal. They usually don’t eat with silverware, they just use their hands. Unfortunately my stomach could not cope with the diet change that well, but I got used to it. The other YFU students and I were the only white people in Mbuzini and around that area, therefore we got a very special treatment. It is not rare that people on the street or cars stop just to have a conversation with you. For most of them we were a role model and they wanted to look and behave like we do. My family tried to show me as much of their culture as possible, also everyday things like their way of washing the dishes and clothes. A highlight was also to wear their traditional clothes one day. After being home again, I can honestly say that these two weeks were an experience that I will never forget. I got to know a totally different lifestyle that might seem insufficient to us Europeans, but is satisfactory for this culture. I also learned to appreciate little things that I take for granted, for example a flush toilet. I recommend everyone who is willing to get to know a completely different side of South African culture to go on the Cultural Exchange Tour. I couldn’t believe that the South Africa I knew before the Cultural Exchange and the one I got to know after are the exact same countries.

Cultural Exchange

Students before the start of Cultural Exchange.

Paula Kottwitz with her host family before attending church.

David, Siri and Fabian at school.

Students with their host siblings at Tikhuni High School.

Xavier and Felix with their host family.

David Kesley with his host brother.

Saying goodbye to David in school.

Andrina wearing traditional clothes.

Melanie on her last day of school.

Jonas and Lea experiencing the traditional church.

Lea Wistuba is learning how to make maze bread.

Jonas Temba Conrad


CRAZY LOVE I cannot even remember which fact was more shocking or more unfamiliar for me regarding my exchange year: the one that I was going to have three brothers for one year or that my host family is Muslim. At home in Switzerland we do not really like the Muslim people. I have never understood why, but we just don‘t like them. Maybe it is not even the religion but just the fact that they are foreigners and we have a saying for this in Switzerland: what the farmer doesn‘t know, he does not eat. We are not openminded at all, or at least a lot of people are not. They associate the Islam with terrorism, the scarf of a Muslim woman scares them because they don‘t know what is hidden underneath it and they don‘t even want to try to understand what it is all about to be Muslim. But they are just people like you and me, they are normal and when my host mother doesn‘t wear a scarf, she looks weird because something is just missing. At home in Switzerland I only have one sister and now I am the only sister. I have to say I always wanted to have brothers and now I have to say I really don‘t understand why. I don‘t know how I thought I am going to survive a year with loud, wild and crazy monsters. After half an hour I have enough of them, I have to say a lot of times: „Boys, stop it, I am just a girl“, but they still don‘t stop. But somehow life would not be the same without them: I am never going to get such sweet Valentine cards like I got this year, who is going to jump in the middle of the night in the pool with me? What boys can be my next three „little“ gentlemen? I am already getting tears in my eyes when I just have to think about going „home“ and leaving them back here. Crazy how life can change so quickly, crazy how life can change within six months, crazy how people who were strangers to you just one year ago are now a part of your most important-people-group. Crazy how I have found a home miles away from my other home, crazy how I learnt so much, changed, cried, laughed and realized so much in such a short time. But the thing that is most important to realize: Everybody is the same everybody!

Crazy Love

Two of my host brothers and me.

My hostfamily, as we went to the funeral of Tata Madiba.

STORY BY LEANDRO GARCIA The purpose of the Volunteer Training was not only to show potential volunteers what our organization is all about, but moreover to let them become part of YFU. It is important to mention that everyone who is interested in volunteering will always find a place in the YFU family. The day started with a very nice breakfast that helped everyone to charge their energies and have a fresh start. After Rynette‘s Scholtz welcoming introduction, Dr. Hans Strijdom (our chairman), described the story of YFU South Africa since its beginning, back in 1994. Once his detailed and interesting speech was over, it was time for Dr. Nina Vogues (the YFU National Director) to explain us what it is all about being a YFU Volunteer, highlighting all the benefits of this unique experience. Everyone had the chance to introduce themselves and was wonderful to see how many different people were there. Among us we had: former and actual host families, former South African exchange students, volunteers and interns from overseas (Argentina, Austria and Germany), new volunteers and also future host families. After Rynette’s guidance, one by one the volunteers told us their experiences with YFU. Some of them were even worth dropping tears! The event finished with a delightful lunch at Bentley’s restaurant which was a great opportunity to talk and get to know each other better. We want to thank everyone for sharing this event with us and also to welcome the new volunteers to the YFU family :)

Volunteer Training (March 8th)

“Returnees who arrived back home in January to returnees who‘s mom started the organisation (in South Africa). Host families who have hosted once and families who are not sure when they will stop. Volunteers from South Africa and volunteers from around the world. Young, old, tall, short, from the north and the south. And everyone in between. This were all the diverse participants that attended the volunteer training in Pretoria to kick start our 20 year anniversary. Truly shows that after 20 years we have managed to - Make the world our home. By advancing intercultural learning, mutual respect and social responsibility. Through educational exchanges for youth, families and the communities.“ Ngoako Mashitisho JVC Chairman

“South Africa : far from home, but more than ever feeling at home.“ Isabel Hazenbosch

exchange student from Belgium

“Being an exchange student is like growing up for a second time - you learn how the simplest things work, you evolve new skills, look at things with different perspectives and even if you make a lot of mistakes during the year, you realize finally who you want to be!“ Melanie Dzambazov exchange student from Austria

“YFU, a melting pot of cultures and people. A place I call home.“ Jamion Hendricks Volunteer





YFU South Africa Newsletter - March 2014  

In our fresh looking edition of the year, we have: - Introduction by our intern - The diary of the Cape tour - Mid Year Orientation - An...

YFU South Africa Newsletter - March 2014  

In our fresh looking edition of the year, we have: - Introduction by our intern - The diary of the Cape tour - Mid Year Orientation - An...