Pranav Dixit - 2015 Program Participant
Roaming around in Cape Town after the orientation day!
Why did you decide to volunteer abroad?
I wanted to do something different with my life. Mundane day to day work was eating me up. An international volunteer program is a great way to travel as you're contributing in some way or another to a community.
Why did you choose IVHQ’s teaching program in South Africa?
Teaching was always something that came naturally to me. Ever since I was a little kid my friends would turn to me to understand things, so I chose the teaching program in South Africa. IVHQ was recommended by a dear friend of mine, and after extensive research and talking to various people I zeroed in on going ahead and taking my journey with them.
What was your favorite part the location of your placement?
The feeling of it being away from the hustle bustle of the city was a nice change for me. Plus, the beautiful scenery all around.
What surprised you most South Africa?
The thing that surprised me the most was how gifted South Africa is, in terms of the natural flora and fauna! From deserts, mountains, and plateaus, to grasslands, wetlands, and subtropical forests. From the lions and the elephants to the great white sharks, they had it all! I felt very closely connected with nature during my time here.
What made your program unique?
The love and care that goes into the program speaks volumes. I taught various subjects, even played games, read stories, helped with the assignments. The uniqueness of my program was definitely how everyone worked as a team, so in sync, from the teachers, to the kids, to the volunteers, etc.
In class with the lovely kids
What is one thing you wish you would have known before volunteering in South Africa?
I wish I had known that it was going to get so windy and chilly, so I would have to say bring probably a jacket or two! But, then again, you can just buy a jacket.
How supportive were local staff members?
The local staff were of great help even before I left from my home. Communicating, sending in various documents, and so on and so forth. They were always present and proactive.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
Most locals understood and spoke English, so it was fine. With my Indian accent and their African accent it was a joy for others to hear me converse with the locals.
What do you wish you could change your program?
Ah, I wish I’d stayed for a longer duration!
Describe a day in the life of an IVHQ volunteer in South Africa.
I used to wake up every day at 6:00 a.m. and feel the fresh sunrise outside. After getting ready and having breakfast at the home, I was picked up for my placement around 8:30 a.m. everyday. I used to start teaching by around 9:00 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. I was then dropped off back to home by 2:30 p.m. After that I would usually have lunch at the home only and walk to the beach for some fresh air and some wi-fi (guilty as charged!). I also used to meet volunteers from other placements and houses during my free time. Usually, I went out to some nearby cafes and restaurants with other volunteers in the evenings and had a blast!
What was your favorite activity outside of your placement?
The five day safari in South Africa was the best thing I ever did in my life! From bungee jumping to shark cage diving, I overcame many fears that clouded my mind for years on this trip.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best it?
The accommodation we had was a rented house. It had five rooms, three baths, and two sitting areas. I couldn't have asked for more! We were 10 to 12 volunteers living in there. My room was a cozy one; I had a comfy single bed and beside me there were two bunk beds shared by two other volunteers. The accommodation also had a well stocked kitchen. But, the best part my accommodation were the people (other volunteers) living in with me.
How has volunteering abroad changed your life?
I have definitely came out a better person. I was a bit socially awkward as a person and this trip has totally changed that. I now see life in a whole new light.
I can't wait to travel more, and explore and mingle in more cultures.
What was the hardest part volunteering abroad in South Africa?
The planning stage was the hardest for me. Finding the right organisation, the right program, the right dates, the paperwork and formalities can become cumbersome.
If you could volunteer abroad again, where would you go?
If I had a chance to volunteer again, I would love it to be somewhere in Europe. But frankly, I would go wherever I get a chance to.
Helping a community even in the smallest way possible gives way to bigger change. And that feeling is priceless.
What do you feel the biggest benefit of volunteering abroad is?
It frees up your mind to new possibilities. Volunteering abroad is just awe-inspiring!
Would you recommend IVHQ to other students?
Yes. I would definitely recommend IVHQ to other students and even to anyone else who wants to embark on a journey of self discovery and adventure, all the while contributing to a community in their own way.