Rachel Vernon
Rachel Vernon
South Africa, 2022
Hi, my name is Rachel, I will be going to Cape Town, South Africa for 6 months to work with Volunteer Solutions. I plan to work in elementary schools with sports development and work in a local clinic. Read More About Rachel →

Spooky season meets Africa

Hello friends and family! Here is your life update from Cape Town, South Africa! Life here has been full of adventure lately! I have enjoyed the warmth, or should I say HEAT! It’s a battle to stay out of the sun because the UV index is getting up to 10! This week I started with a Cape Town FC soccer game at the DHL stadium! They WON, so it was a crazy environment! The locals say the Cape Town FC fans go “APE IN THE CAPE” because they are crazy!

We now have two new members at the school! Mr. Anthony brought two female geese to the school. The children love the geese and have learned a lot about coexisting with other animals. I also started working in one of the gardens because I couldn’t hold myself back any longer. I cleaned up the dead leaves and trash, as well as propagated some leaves to make more plants. I even brought three plants home to grow in my room. I am a crazy plant mom at home, and I miss all my plants! It is so fun to get my hands dirty and help Mr. Anthony out in the garden in my free time. I truly cherish the relationships I have built with the staff at school. Every morning I say hi to the staff, specifically using their names to remember who they are. I realized that I really appreciated Dawn greeting me with, “Good morning Rachel” as I walk into school. Because she uses my name, it makes me feel loved; I didn’t realize the power of remembering someone’s name. Having a relationship with the staff makes me look forward to going to school for not only the children, but also the staff.

Art galleries on the first Thursday of the month

Another fun thing I did was visited several art galleries on Nov 5th. On the first Thursday of every month, local art galleries hold a late-night event from 5-9 pm to let people come through and enjoy the artwork. Then we went to the SALT factory, which had a local pop-up thrift shop.




Halloween at school (Halloween is becoming more popular, but no trick or treating due to safety)

Friday, Nov 4th, the school celebrated Halloween. The staff and students dressed up and had snacks and sweets to purchase. So no school, just sugar rushes! The costumes were so cute! (There were a lot of Spiderman, witches, and princesses). Although I did not dress up, my hat made me look like a tourist, so I said I dressed up as a tourist!


Meeting Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon after they beat Brazil in the semi-finals

Lastly, this weekend was event packed! I went to the Beach Pro Volleyball Tour. I watched 3 US women’s teams compete. I even met Sarah Sponcil (who competed in the Olympics in Tokyo) and Terese Cannon, the team took silver in the tournament! I also won a signed US jersey because of my epic dance moves!

USA women’s beach volleyball signed jerseyUSA women’s beach volleyball signed jersey

Red Bull track for the box cart racing in Bo-Kaap







Then Sunday, Nov 6th, I went to Red Bull’s box cart racing in Bo-Kaap. 57 teams competed and built engine-less cars that were less than 80kg (176 lbs). It was such a fun day! I also went to the University of Cape Town on Monday. It was beautiful and reminded me of California because of the red clay roofing.



Cape Town University

I have felt emotionally sound, but I am already dreading the bittersweet feeling of going home. Auntie V has said, “your goodbye will be harder than the others because you’ve been here so much longer and are a part of our family.” This trip will always have such a huge place in my heart. I cannot believe that I will be in the states in less than 75 days! I am very emotionally attached to my host family. I even get to bathe and dress Sophia in the evenings to give Jade a break.

Mrs. Jacobs is a new member in the picture. She comes in and helps with behavioral issues at the school. I have spoken with her a handful of times and enjoyed sitting in on her lessons. One lesson was about inappropriate behavior. These children often touch and speak inappropriately to others and staff. I learned a lot of these children are abused at home. It is so hard to imagine what their home life is like. I also learned that some of the children carry forks, kitchen knives, or scissors with them at all times. Although weapons are not allowed at school, they carry these items because where they live is not safe, and need something to defend themselves. It is so hard to imagine what all these kids have gone through. It is our responsibility at school to help teach them boundaries and respect for authority and peers. I told the kids that I was setting a loving boundary and didn’t want hugs anymore because I had a bunch of bites on my back. We assume they are flea bites from the children’s clothes. I had one student who asked, “Are you still doing that loving boundary thing?” I laughed a little and said, “yes, thank you so much for remembering.”

Something I have learned is how South Africans speak to each other is much harsher than I am used to. In addition to louder voices, even shouting across the house to get someone’s attention, they speak more bluntly. Knowing my host family’s hearts makes me feel better when they say something in a blunt tone. For example, the janitor, Mr. Davids, said “you didn’t close the door to the storage room again, why did you leave it open even after I told you to close it?” WOW! I felt terrible and immediately apologized. The next morning I said, “good morning,” not sure how he would take it after yelling at me. But he was like, “hi, how’r (how are) you?” It made me realize not to take things personally.

Hudson landed in the Cape Town Airport after traveling for 38 hours

As this term wraps up and the students take finals, I welcomed a visitor! Hudson comes to town and I get to show him my new home! Also, please to check out my video that I made of the first 3 months here! https://youtu.be/gbtOcbvPMmU

Tune in next time!

2 thoughts on “Spooky season meets Africa”

  1. Hi Rachel! Once again we loved reading your letter! You are doing so many different activities. We are so glad you get to experience life in Cape Town. Your accounts of the children are always very touching. They are blessed to have you as their coach. We know you have influenced their lives in many caring, positive ways. We know you will have your own garden someday , but for now you have your house plants to enjoy. We know that it was such a highlight to have Hudson visit! As you said, 75 more days until you see him in the states! Love, Pa and Grandma.

    1. Hi Grandma and Pa! Unfortunately, the plants died already, it’s not the same as taking care of my plants. I hope you like the new post, it was fun to write! Love you two!

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