South-Africa is one of the destinations that really speak to me because of its natural beauty, its diversity and ofcourse, the sunshine. I haven’t been there yet, but it happens to be that Jennifer from The Goal Getter has been volunteering in South-Africa. So I asked her a few questions about South-Africa, the volunteering and how she experienced life in this beautiful country. I’ve always been curious about volunteering in a foreign country so if you would like to know more about it, keep on reading!
But first, before talking about South-Africa. Can you tell me what your site The Goal Getter is all about?
The Goal Getter is about people who go all the way for that one passion or dream. The online magazine includes strong people who have started from scratch. But entrepreneurs aren’t the only topic we’d like to talk about. The Goal Getter also tells the story about that friend who transformed from couch potato to sporty spice. Or about that former colleague who quit her job and is currently traveling full-time. The important things all Goal Getters have in common? A healthy dose of guts, positivism, self love, love for others and the planet.
The Goal Getter therefore likes to put those powerful people in the picture. Fascinating travel stories, trending brands and restaurants… : you name it, we love it! We’d like to inspire our readers and hope that these stories will help them to achieve their own goals.
Is South-Africa a safe destination for white female solo-travelers?
That’s a tricky question because I was actually one of the lucky ones that didn’t have a bad experience. Other volunteers did get mugged, unfortunately. Those things happen in South Africa quite often. It is something to keep in mind and you always have to take good care of your belongings. I made sure my backpack was in front of me when it started to feel sketchy, just in case! I traveled solo to South Africa but I didn’t spend a lot of time alone because of the group of volunteers.
When entering the Cape Town’s Airport though, they asked me a lot of questions. The fact that I was by myself, especially as a woman, didn’t really help. Nevertheless, I would consider South Africa to be an option for solo-traveling women. But make sure that you socialize with other travelers so you aren’t on your own that often. Cape Town should be fine, Johannesburg seems to be a bit more dangerous at times. And here’s a tip I got from one of the locals : always make sure to get back at the hotel, hostel or B&B before the sun goes down. If you’d like to go out, leave and come back in a group of people to reduce your options of getting mugged. If you use your common sense and are careful enough, it’s ok to travel there solo and the views of the Table Mountain are there just to make up for the hassle of having to be extra cautious at times.
What kind of volunteering work did you do in South-Africa?
I volunteered in a school in Dunoon, one of South Africa’s townships. I was an English teacher in a class of 20 kids, having the age of four. They were very curious and enthusiastic but their English wasn’t that great because the local teachers don’t really master the language. Instead, they speak a local dialect. One of the things I remember from my introductions days is that I had to motivate the kids in every possible way. Every time I saw a color or number was a great opportunity to profound their knowledge about it. We sang a lot of songs, had some playtime, colored an animal of item that was highlighted that week or were busy learning colors and numbers.
How do the people in South-Africa live? And what is the one thing that stuck with you from that time?
There is something like “Africa time”. Things happen slowly. Keep that in mind, every time you visit the continent. It was something I had to get used to because in the Western part of Europe everything happens so fast.
Also, the people are amazing and so so so kind! One of my teachers for example… everyone was a bit afraid of her because she was the “angry” one at school. In fact, she was the one with authority, the kids listened to her. At first I thought she didn’t like me but she actually cried on my last day. She said she really loved me, the way I helped her and loved the interaction I’ve had with the kids. South-Africans have the most beautiful smiles. They are so genuine!
The one thing I will always remember about South Africa is its landscapes. So many options, so many different angles and sites.. Every view is breath taking. I felt so happy although I didn’t bring a lot with me there. Having the opportunity to visit a country as phenomenal as South Africa with a group of unforgettable volunteers made me feel incredibly happy.
I don’t know about you, but Jennifer surely has convinced me to give this amazing country a visit in the near future!