My Second Home

By Santiago, YFU South Africa intern in 2019

My six-month internship in South Africa has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’ve met people who opened their home and heart to me. I learned from the best people who helped me discover a new version of myself.

Being an intern in YFU South Africa helped me develop not only professional skills, but also, and I believe most importantly, personal skills. As part of my tasks, in cooperation with volunteers and other YFU staff members, we promoted the programme to South African learners to give them the opportunity to study abroad. We did school presentations, planned and delivered orientations that help both the students and the host families through their adaptation process, and also did administrative and daily tasks.

During my internship, I laughed, I sang, I danced, and cried with laughter. And just like the exchange students, I also had to adapt to a completely different environment and culture.

As the time passed, I learned to value what I have in my home country, Mexico, and I am ready to share all my experiences in South Africa with my friends and family back home with a big smile. I say that sometimes my experience in South Africa felt like a dream. During these six months I also learned one of the most important lessons: how to be a big brother.

I learned that in Africa sharing is caring and everyone will always open their door for someone else, even if it is a stranger. I will always remember South Africans as friendly, happy and outgoing people.

I will take so many memories back home with me: the springboks winning the rugby world cup, visiting Kruger, hearing a lion roar, feeding zebra and kudu on my hand, the best sunsets I have ever seen, braaing, eating vetkoek and melktart… all these memories and more made this the best internship ever.

I wish I could stop time, stay longer or do the internship all over again! I take South Africa with me, all the memories, friends and new family in a special place in my heart. I believe that we are shaped by all the people we meet and all the places we go to. I am Mexican by chance, but South African by choice!

A very special thank you goes to my South African mom (who is also my boss), Mama Nettie! From the first day when we talked via email, more than one year ago, planning my internship here, you were always kind and welcoming. You are a big role model for me and you are an amazing person. Thanks for being not only my supervisor but my South African mom! I will always remember all you did for me and forever be grateful.

Thank you Papa Jottie for all the great moments together, for all the jokes and all the laughs. It is hard to leave; time went by so fast… they say that time flies when you are enjoying the moment. I will keep in touch and please remember “Mi casa es su casa”!

Baie baie dankie YFU, Ngiyabonga Soid Afrika.