Monday, 8 July 2013

Our Heritage

By Jasper Burger
So we are certainly in the swing of things and I have met some awesome people at our presentations thus far. Interviewing applicants have also been a pleasure. The eagerness of the applicants to see the United States really struck me this year so far.

Between presentations and interviews there is a lot of promoting  taking place and I find myself lucky enough to stop now and then and take it all in. Last week promoting and creating awareness of Workaway in the small town of Cullinan was an absolute delight. Talking to people there who have never left Gauteng was an eye opener but I was a breath of fresh air for them as well I hope. It got me to thinking that sometimes we are all so busy with work and responsibilities that we don’t even realize the Historical significance of our own towns, Cities or Country. Take me for instance, driving past the Union Building on a daily basis where leaders make decisions for our great country and I haven’t stopped there in 10 years…or the Voortekker Monument that was built to commemorate the day of the vow.

My point is that we as Workaway applicants want to go see America and experience their cultures and history but just make sure you fully do the same and embrace our very own great country as well. We as South Africans have a great heritage and we need to remind ourselves of that fact every now and then.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

My Workaway International Experience - Deon van Zyl

If someone asked me which words I would use to describe my working experience through Workaway International, the few that spring to mind would be: “Wow,” “Amazing” and “I would go back if I could!”
At the age of 19 I was a typical blond-haired, blue-eyed mommy’s boy who decided to jump onto a plane and fly 16,000km over the ocean to go and work in a foreign country.  Not knowing anything about being independent, I decided that what I make of this new and exciting challenge was up to me.  I arrived at JFK international Airport filled with excitement, and not to mention fear - lots of it!
Glen Oaks Country Club was the first club I worked at on the Workaway program.  Upon our arrival at the club, I could see the excitement and nerves that were battling it out amongst my fellow successful recruits.
At Glen Oaks, I worked in the kitchen which was a very big learning experience for me, bearing in mind all the different cultures in the USA.  What made Glen Oaks very special was that they really made everybody feel at home and that, although we were there to work, they ensured that we had an amazing time while doing so.

When we were not working too hard at the Country Club, we went sight-seeing and explored New York - from walking down Wall Street, to visiting the Statue of Liberty, to taking the bus tour through the Bronx.  We ate food from the local stands around the city – the hot dogs weren’t too bad, but a proudly South African Boere Wors Roll still doesn’t compare!

We took trips to Six Flags (an adventure park) and even went on fishing trips and watched shows on Broadway.  Glen Oaks was a fantastic experience which I will never forget.  Even after a long and hard season at the Country Club, they showed their appreciation for our hard work and spoiled us with big farewell dinner – the perfect way to end off our season at the club.
For some of us, Glen Oaks was not the end of the road as we were given the opportunity to sign up for Workaway’s Winter program and found ourselves on the sunny beaches of Florida.
In Florida we had the opportunity to visit all the Disney parks, Universal studios, Cape Canaveral, and the NASA Base.  Seeing all these places in “real life” was just spectacular.

When the Winter season eventually came to an end, I was not looking forward to ending my journey and going back home.  I spoke to the Clubhouse manager at Sailfish Point and they were keen to accept me on to their student training program, enabling me to work at the Country Club for another two years.  I was so excited to be able to stay on at the club and it was all thanks to Sailfish Point and Workaway International!
Working at Sailfish Point independently and not as part of the Workaway program, I had to get my own place and mode of transportation.  I found a great flat and a roommate, and I bought myself a motorcycle to commute to and from work. Everything was going perfect - I had the dream job, dream location and everything that I needed.

Tragically that all ended in a split second when I was hit by a drunk driver on 07 April 2006.  I was rushed to hospital where they informed me that my spine was broken and that I would never be able to walk again. This was a very tough time for myself, as well as my family who were back home in Cape Town.  After receiving the news they struggled to get into the US to come and see me in hospital.  Were it not for Bill Mayville and Workaway stepping in to help and arranging for my family to come out and see me in the States, I don’t think it ever would have happened. This proved to me that once you have been on the Workaway program, you are always a part of the family and they are more than willing to go the extra mile to help you out.

After spending three months in hospital it was time to say goodbye to my family at Sailfish Point.  The amount of appreciation I have for Bill and the Workaway team is indescribable. Without them I would not be the person I am today!
It was scary heading back to South Africa as I was not the same person I was when I first left, but I decided to pick myself up and I carried on with my life.  I sometimes feel that I am better off now than I was before.

Would I recommend this program to anybody else? 100% yes!  Workaway gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and you should keep living your dream no matter what.  Take the chance and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Home Sweet Home

By Nivedna Sewchurran
When I was younger and back home in South Africa, all I could think about was traveling abroad to be able to experience life in a different country, meet new people, and encounter the different cultures that are found in various parts of the worlds.  I was very lucky because I got to experience all of this thanks to Workaway International.
While I was working overseas on the Workaway program I had the opportunity to travel in and around the USA. Being away from home for such a long time was fun and exciting, but also made me sad at times, mainly during Christmas, New Year, birthdays and the many other important times that I usually spent with my family.  I didn't realise how much I would miss home until I actually left.
South Africa has some of the most beautiful locations on earth. With our great weather, amazing mountains and gorgeous beaches, South Africa is definitely one in a million. Although America was great and I thoroughly enjoyed my time over there, I still missed the little things that we sometimes don't appreciate when we’re at home.
South African food was definitely one of the aspects I missed the most.  The many flavours used in our dishes and the various food items present in the different South African cultures is what makes our food some of the best I’ve ever tasted .  Having a proudly South Africa braai at the dam with my family and friends has always been one of my favourite things to do.
South Africa has so much to offer that no matter where I am in the world, South Africa will always be my home.