One of the most rewarding and important parts of studying abroad is getting involved in the culture, integrating, and taking part in local traditions. It was extremely exciting for AIFS Study Abroad participants in Stellenbosch, South Africa to volunteer to be part of the Cape Town Carnival, described on the event’s website as a “glamorous celebration of the transformative power of creativity and our African identity with its diverse array of communities and cultures.” Thousands of spectators gather each year to enjoy the celebration on Green Point’s famous Fan Walk, and this year was no exception.
Student involvement was orchestrated by AIFS Resident Director, Hestea, who reached out to Cape Town Carnival to see if there was a way to get our American students involved in the South African tradition. They were chosen to operate a giant caterpillar float because of the affiliated organization, Believe in Schatzi Organisation (BISO). BISO is a local non-profit committed to helping young adults living with special needs enjoy life to the fullest. BISO’s proposed creative role in parade was “Insect Orchestra,” which provided the soundscape for the AIFS caterpillars. A total of 40 BISO members and their caretakers participated, and AIFS students were proud to be part of it.
There are so many great opportunities to volunteer abroad. Whether it’s an event here or there, or you make it a focus of your entire experience, there’s always a way to give back to the host community you are a part of.