Daria – Netball in South Africa

Daria talks to us about her experience in South Africa from volunteering in community sports activities for disadvantaged children, to exploring the adventure and culture of this diverse nation.

What reason brought you to United Through Sport in South Africa?

I was looking for a volunteering project after finishing my bachelor studies. I contacted a travel office, specialized for South Africa, which a friend of mine recommended to me and they introduced me to the project. As I didn’t want to be in front of 25 kids in a class room all day, doing sports with the children sounded like a great alternative, and it actually was!

What were your expectations?

It’s difficult to say for me, because I really didn’t inform myself very well before I came to UTS as I had a stressful time finishing my studies and leaving 3 days after my final exam. So in the end I arrived with pretty much no expectations so I was surprised very, very positively. I just wanted to help some kids and have a great experience with cool people, which I absolutely did.

Describe why these photos mean so much to you…

On one side these two photos show really precisely how much the kids enjoy being with us volunteers and how happy they are for every sports lesson we gave them each week and on the other side it also shows my pleasure being part of the project with very nice other volunteers.

Actuality versus expectations (what are the biggest differences)?

I thought that the work with the kids will be very impressive and funny but if you are not part of this project you really can’t imagine how heart-rending, joyful and emotional, also exhausting and sometimes difficult the work is. I was and I still am completely overwhelmed by all the feelings this experience gave me for my life.

Highlight of your coaching/ teaching experience?

I really don’t want to pick out a highlight because the whole 5 weeks are one of the highlights I ever experienced in my whole 24 years so far. The project is just the perfect mix of helping the kids and also making the world a little better, meeting some great people from all over the world and getting to know a completely different culture and country.

What are you going to miss most about UTS?

Well it’s been one month since I left today and I miss pretty much everything! The kids, the work, the feeling, the people, the country!

What have you learned from your experience in South Africa?

I realized how blessed I am, living my perfect life in Switzerland. It really taught me to not see small problems back home as big as an elephant! And now I really know that I want to get a job connected to an NGO or volunteering project. It kind of stole my heart…

What would be your reason to come back to UTS in Port Elizabeth and why would you recommend someone else to go?

I would love to come back to UTS because it’s a great all-over experience for life. I think no one would regret helping this project because it’s a super combination of volunteering, making a little difference in the kids life, meeting amazing people, partying, experiencing a new culture and travelling a bit in the country. The organization is very cool and everything is pretty well organized. There’s just no reason to not go or not go back!

Last message to your UTS Family

I miss you guys!!!!! Tom pls. hug everyone I know!!!!! Especially Sophie and Elena!