Page 1

YFU SOUTH AFRICA Newsletter May 2016


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? Read Magda‘s article at the end of this newsletter to find out more about what it‘s like to host a student; and if you can‘t host a student yourself, help us by spreading the word. 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. Cape Town Tour December 2015 2. Mid-Year Orientation January 2016 3. Max‘ Trip to Mozambique 4. Alex‘ Experience as a YFU Intern 5. Michaela‘s Experience on the Cultural Exchange 6. Robyn‘s Exchange to Germany: The 2014 FIFA World Cup 7. Juliane‘s Time as a Volunteer at Durbanville Children‘s Home 8. Fernweh: Magda‘s experience as a host family 9. Upcoming YFU Events and Dates

Cape Town Tour Dec 2015

The Cape Town Tour 2015 by LĂŠo MallĂŠtroit As we mentioned it in our previous newsletter, the Cape Town tour organised for the students took place at the beginning of December. For two weeks, they left on an exciting holidays which took them through the country, along the famous Garden Route, and of course in the Mother City! After gathering everyone in Pretoria, we travelled down to Kimberly, where we got to see the famous Big Hole. From there, we got to Oudtshoorn, where some of us were lucky enough (so to speak) to ride on the back of one of the stupidest birds in the world. Of course, we also stopped to admire the humbling beauty of the Kango caves.

Cape Town Tour Dec 2015

Our next stop was the village of Tsitsikamma, where we stayed for a few days. Camping, zip-lining, sea baths, canoe, river rafting, and even Segway rides were on the menu! The students also got a chance to walk with elephants, to pay a visit to a refuge for ‘big cats’, to walk through the biggest aviary in the world, and to interact with monkeys. Then, of course, it was time to hit Cape Town! The students could barely wait to finally discover one of the most exciting cities in South Africa. It is safe to say that they were not disappointed! Luckily, the weather was perfect for the whole time that we spent there, so the students could enjoy the famous view from the top of Table Mountain. We also visited Robben Island, the Cape of Good Hope, the Seal Island of Hout Bay… The students enjoyed some shopping time at the V&A Waterfront, and the beach at Tableview. For those few days, we were staying at a backpackers on Kloof Street, so the students could enjoy walking through the City. After a final night walk on Signal Hill, it was time for us to head back up north... With the heads full of memories and the cameras full of pictures! Most students already decided that they would be back. As for us, we will be back next year for a new edition of the YFU Cape Town tour!

Mid-Year Orientation Jan 2016

The Mid-Year Orientation 2016 by Léo Mallétroit From the 22nd until the 24th of January, the year students who arrived in August attended their mid-year orientation. Although most of them could not believe it, they are now far more than halfway through their stay in South Africa. Surely, it is sad to think that their exchange will soon be coming to an end. However, don’t start crying just yet! All former exchange students can testify that the last few months are a completely different, awesome experience. By now, most of the students speak English very well – and sometimes even, another South Africa language –, feel comfortable in their host families and at school, have made friends, etc. In short, the first part of the year, where the students get to know the country, is over, providing room for the students to genuinely experience South African everyday life. In short, the first part of the year, where the students get to know the country, is over, providing room for the students to genuinely experience South African everyday life. For this orientation, we decided to try out a new venue in Hatfield, which, looking at the picture, the student seem to have enjoyed!

Mozambique Trip: Max

My trip to Mozambique by Max Gurtler Last Christmas I travelled to Mozambique with my host family for one week. We spent the holiday in a small house next to the beach, in Xai-Xai (in the North of the country). We basically went to the beach every single day, from 9 to 16, just after eating a breakfast made of tea and cookies. The underwater life is beautiful; my host father compares it to Mauritius Island. The beaches are surprisingly flat, so you can easily play soccer or volleyball. A little bit more in the background, there are dunes where you can walk for hours and have fun rolling down. Behind the dunes there is also a beautiful rain forest, but I didn’t really go there because of the snakes.

Mozambique Trip: Max

Mozambique could actually be a very nice country to spend holidays at, if they had more touristic infrastructures. In fact, they don’t really have hotels, so you actually have to buy a house to be comfortably holidaying. That’s what my host family did; they share the house with 8 other people. Although you can only spend a few weeks a year in the house and that you have to plan a lot before, I think that by sharing the house, they can holiday for very cheap in a place that could be way more expensive if it wasn’t actually so underrated. I really enjoyed these holidays and thank my family for that; my host siblings and I had so much fun ! And even though the Mozambicans were poor, they were always very nice and friendly with us. I think I can say it was awesome! :)

Intern Stories: Alexander

Back home after a YFU internship by Alexander Rauff My name is Alexander, and I was an intern at the Pretoria office, from September until January. I left mid of January and this is a little story about how it has been for me to return home to my old life here in Denmark. It was of course very difficult leaving South Africa. Leaving new and old friends, leaving my new South African home, leaving my beloved Mazda 323, and leaving a lot of great memories is not, and never will be, easy, no matter how much I was looking forward to go home to “the old life”.”. So it has taken its toll to return, and even though I have tried it before, I believe that leaving a place after having been there for a long period of time, living with and meeting great people is always something that I will find extremely difficult. And I believe a lot of the people reading this can relate to that special feel, leaving one’s “other home”.

Intern Stories: Alexander

However, I did not have a lot of time to sit around missing people when returning, because as difficult as it is to leave as great it is to return back home. The first couple of weeks of course went by with seeing lots of old friends and family and doing what a guy who just returned from a 4 months stay abroad does. It is fair to say that sometimes I was running with 200 km/h, just to make all the appointments that I had – which is exactly how it should be. But as soon the feeling of being home had found its ground, a new chapter of my life started as I joined the Danish Military, in which I will be serving for the next 4 months. It is something completely different than my life in South Africa, and I must admit that the first time I had to sleep in the forest in -8 degrees with only a sleeping back and a cover, the South African sun had never been more missed! Being an intern at YFU, and being in the army is almost incomparable, but what I can say is that both things have given me great things, that I can take with me further on in life. The language and cultural understanding I have gained by being an intern, in combination with the discipline and order which is now part of my life in the military, is a combination that I am sure will help me in the future. At last I would like to use this article to say a great thanks to all the people who were part of making my internship great, interesting and fun, together with wishing both Leo and the awesome students a great last time in SA – I hope you will enjoy it to the fullest!

Cultural Exchange: Michaela

From the 29th of February to the 13th of March, more than half of our students took part in the YFU Cultural Exchange. During this two-weeks exchange that we have been organising for many years now, our students get the priceless opportunity to encounter a brand new side of the South African cultural diversity. Michaela, from Switzerland, tells us more about this incredible experience, which led her to share the life of a rural family in the village of Steenbok, just minutes away from the Mozambique border.

My experience on the Cultural Exchange by Michaela Herzog At the end of February 2016, I was on my way to the Cultural Exchange. I was unbelievably excited about it. It has been a huge opportunity to experience the culture and the lifestyle of people who live isolated and with a limited amount of luxuries and even necessities. The first day was difficult for me. I realized that my host family could not speak English, beyond a few words. Only my host sister was able to speak and easy conversation. Another difficulty I faced was not being able to use water as much as I was used to. For example, there is no running water, so there are neither water toilets nor showers. People have to hope and pray for rain, so that they can get enough water for bathing.

Cultural Exchange: Michaela

The house I lived in had no proper roof or floor. Cooking outside was totally normal, because they did not want to use electricity for anything besides lights and a freezer. But I could get used to those things very fast. The only hard thing was the weather condition. It was extremely hot, so much that I sometimes felt like I was about to melt! It was incredible, I had never felt like this before. But even that was not the biggest shock. The most difficult part of it was that I missed showering, but the people leaving here have to live like this every single day, not just for two weeks, but still they never complain. That gave us a big motivation push. Anytime when we felt like this was too hard, we would remind each other that the locals live like this, and we should not be complaining. Luckily, from the very first day, the school we attended was really great. All the students and the teachers were so happy that we were there. For the two weeks, we had almost no classes at all! For us exchange students, this was really cool, but for the local students with exams to right at the end of the year, it is really bad. The teachers were in the school most of the time, but they simply did not feel like teaching, so they stayed in the teachers’ room all day. In my opinion, this is so unfair because most students want to learn, but they do not get a good chance. As I said before, for us exchange students it was totally fine; we had a lot of time to talk, take pictures and dance.

Cultural Exchange: Michaela

During school time, we learnt a lot about the local people’s lives. Our afternoon activities were also enjoyable. I spent most afternoons with the other exchange students, their host siblings and their friends. We went all together to town several times using taxis, which was a totally African experience! Also, went to a traditional healer, who read our future, taught us traditional dancing, let us try on their siSwati clothes and made a ritual for us. I think that this was one of my favourite days. In the evening, I often went to different churches. Those with a lot of singing, clapping and dancing were just wonderful. I have to say, in the beginning I counted the days. But after a week, the time went so fast, that I was really sad to leave after the two weeks. In the end, the difficult circumstances did not matter anymore. I was just really thankful for all that I could experience and learn. We had an amazing time without mobile phones, showering, fast food, etc. And, I say it again, we were totally thankful for all the experience we got, all the people we met and all the things we learnt. The Steenbok people were so kind to us; I had never seen such caring people before. They will always have a place in my heart.

Cultural Exchange: Pictures

Outbound Stories: Robyn

An Outstanding Day in an Outstanding Country by Robyn Walker Nearly sixteen months ago I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of an exchange to Germany. Before I tell a story of an amazing day with the perfect (host) family and the best of friends, I would just like to say that this exchange was the most spectacular experience I have had so far in my life and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity. Now. On July thirteenth of 2014, it was the Soccer World Cup finals. Germany versus Argentina. I won’t lie and say that I happen to be a huge soccer fan, because I’m not. But this was the day that I really began to understand how amazing the Germans truly are. At 4:30pm that day, my sister, my brother and I left the house to catch a train with a few of our friends into the city. We were on our way to what they called a “public viewing”. This is when I became a temporary soccer fan. I had never seen so any supporters for anything in a single place before. It was truly breathtaking. As I stood in the stadium with at least a thousand other people waiting for the match that would be projected onto a large screen to start, I became excited for the game to begin.

Outbound Stories: Robyn

I was excited to watch Germany play Argentina, and I was excited to be a part of the support group that the public viewing was for that final match. As the game started I cheered, and screamed, and booed about what was happening in the match along with those around me. And as the game was coming to an end with a score of 0-0, I was among those holding their breaths and praying for that winning goal. That goal for Germany came during overtime. Our prayers were answered and Germany was the 2014 FIFA World Cup Champions. Celebrations started almost spontaneously. People were dancing. They were singing. They were cheering. These celebrations happened all over the city- in the stadium, on the streets, in people’s houses. The pride that was visible from the Germans for their country was undeniably present, and it was beautiful. It was something that I believe all people should strive to have in their own countries. It was a blessing to be able to be a part of those celebrations. To be a part of a German family, to be in Germany with some of the best people I know- at such an important milestone for the country. This was Germany’s fourth world cup win. And now, almost sixteen months later, I can look back at that day. I can take out my soccer shirt, the tickets used to get into the stadium, and all of the pictures. I can look at all of this stuff and remember how amazing that experience was for me and I know that this is a story that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Volunteer Stories: Juliane

Being a Volunteer at Durbanville Children’s Home by Juliane Evrard I have been in South Africa for 3 months. It's half of my stay here, even though it's not a lot I think that I can try to explain to you how was it for me, what I did during my first month and what the work is like. I'm living and spending most of my time in a Children's Home in Durbanville, 30mins away from Cape Town. There are about 30 volunteers here and we have 3 living areas where we can cook or just chill. We are also living with 144 children. A few children still have family but they have been placed here for their security and to guarantee a better future. It's interesting because they try to keep contact with the family and they are also doing therapy with the kids and with their family. It's really eye opening to see how the Children's Home deals with this situation when a child still has connections outside the home. There are so many children so when I first came here it wasn't easy to start building relationships with them but step by step it became easier thanks to the outside time, which is a special time to play with them outside. I'm working nightshift so I have to stay awake all the night and take care of the children if they have a nightmare or if they just wake up during the night. It's exhausting because it's not the same routine as the other volunteers I spend time with but you get used to it.

Volunteer Stories: Juliane

In the Children's Home when you're not working you're free to travel around and to discover Cape Town and the other awesome places near Durbanville. You can do so many different activities, it's amazing! In only 3 months I have rode an elephant, hiked Hottentots's mountains and saw beautiful landscape, we went surfing and we swam with penguins. I just wanted to give you a taste of South Africa but you have to live it and see the children to really understand how I feel. So I told you about my great adventure in South Africa and I hope you will do the same and you will live your dream like me. You just need to take the first step and you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Host Family Stories: Magda

Fernweh by Magda Buitendach There is a newsletter I receive every week about all kinds of exciting stuff that happens in and around Joburg. Although I rarely go to any of the places they write about I still enjoy reading about the shows and markets. And although my children are grown ups I still enjoy reading of all the holiday programs different places have for kids during the holiday season. In this week’s newsletter* the editor mentioned that she suffers from "Fernweh" (A German word that means “a longing for far-off places, farsickness, or a desire to travel")and I realized I suffered from that my whole life. I’m in my early fifties now and even as a primary school girl I had this longing for faraway places and corresponded with pen pals in France and Mauritius. I soon realized I fell in love with and married the wrong person if I ever had dreams of travelling. Although we have a comfortable life, comfortable does not include money for overseas travel (even going to Cape Town is a rare treat). Anyway guess what I did then – I brought the world to my home and started hosting my first high school exchange student in 2008. For the past 6 years our house became a little bit German, Austrian, French and Finnish. We prepare for every new student as if we will be travelling to his/her country. We read about their countries, study their cultures and learn some easy phrases in their languages before they come and when they arrive we eat their chocolates (German and Austrian) and their Salmiakki (Finnish) and freak out about the little trinkets they brought as gifts.

Host Family Stories: Magda

Then the fun part starts, we introduce them to our culture, our language, our friends and our religion and enjoy experiencing it through their eyes. We enrolled them in our local high school, helped them with the language struggles, supported them when the home sickness got too much and the best of all we fell in love with them. They stay for between 10 and 11 months and just when they are fluent in both Afrikaans and English, when they have a whole bunch of friends at school and the teachers forget that they are actually exchange students, when the Pastor at church greet them by their first names and we think they have been with us their whole lives, they have to go home again. In the middle of winter they leave us, just in time for summer holidays in Europe and winter really settles in our home and in our hearts. For a few days we don’t open his/her bedroom door and sit with our cell phones in our hands waiting to hear from them and when the messages start coming telling “mum” and “dad” that they miss us and that they wish they were still in South Africa, we start to relax knowing that this is a relationship that will last a lifetime. Last year 2 of our first students visited us and one of them came again this year for my daughter’s wedding. With the exception of one or 2 of them they still call us mum and dad, they made contact with each other back in Europe and even visited each other, they became brothers and sisters through us, the older ones contacting the new one every year and making him/her feel welcome in our extended family.

Host Family Stories: Magda

My “Fernweh” changed into missing the children that passed through our house but also into a warm feeling that we could make a difference in their lives. I started volunteering for this non-profit organization in 2009 and every year when we try to place the more than 30 students that come, I feel sad that so many of our families do not even want to discuss the possibility. I wonder what happened to our famous South African hospitality. We changed into a culture that is too busy, too private, too scared and unfortunately in some cases too poor to open our homes to the world. They do not ask a lot, just a bed, food and a family that will love them. The organization pays their school fees and they have pocket money for their school uniform, books and everything else they need. Are there other families like mine? People that also have “Fernweh” and want to do something about it? It is never too late!

Upcoming Events

What’s happening in YFU South Africa? 27 – 29 May

Re-Entry Orientation for inbound students in Pretoria

27 – 29 May

Pre-Departure Orientation for outbound students in Pretoria

30 May

Arrival of our new intern, Annie from Sweden

04 June

Pre-Departure Orientation for outbound students in Cape Town

June (tbc)

Re-Entry Orientation for inbound students in Cape Town

24 June

Last day of school for our inbound students

25 June

Return of our inbound students to their home countries

June (tbc)

Return of our volunteer (Durbanville Children’s Home)

Would you like to be part of any of our orientations or help out at the airport? Contact us for more information and become a YFU volunteer!

Contact information

Contact us! 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)

Visit our website: Find us on facebook:

YFU South Africa Newsletter May 2016  
YFU South Africa Newsletter May 2016