Interview with South Africa Country Director Part 1

Luann Mabakoena Hatane, CCS South Africa Country Director, came to CCS after working as the HIV/AIDS Coordinator of CARE initiatives in Lesotho, South Africa, and Swaziland, and serving as the Executive Director of NACOSA (Networking AIDS Community of South Africa).

All things told, Luann brings with her over 20 years of experience in the field of community development, including consultant work with development agencies like USAID, Development Associates, Policy Project and CIDA, and social work with street children.

volunteer abraod in South Africa with CCS

We recently interviewed Luann to get her perspective on the impact of the CCS Cape Town volunteer abroad program, as well as what she'd like future CCS Cape Town volunteers to know. Here's what she had to say:

Alexis: What makes CCS Cape Town unique?

Luann: For travelers who have never been to Africa, it's a very safe and comfortable entry point. It's definitely a gateway to Africa.

I also think that the Cross-Cultural Solutions program in Cape Town really helps to fight against the rural, happy, poor people stereotype that some people have about Africa and what it's like to volunteer in Africa. It's not a monolithic culture. Cape Town presents a true melting pot. For most of our volunteers, it's a totally unique experience to be in a city where over the course of the day, one can interact with people from so many different cultures and language groups—where modern and traditional customs come together.

volunteer abroad in Cape Town Africa

You'll feel comfortable and be able to access parts of our city that are very similar to your own neighborhood, city, and country. But Cape Town also presents a picture of a country bound up in a history of oppression and inequity. A national story that remains very stark and evident as volunteers move beyond the surface of the city.

Alexis: What do volunteers take away from their Cape Town, South Africa experience?

Luann: The reality is that people are interested in South Africa. It's a country that has undergone revolution and democratic change, all in the last 20 years. People are watching South Africa. With a history of oppressive laws that grew from colonization into Apartheid, South Africa de-colonized much later than other African countries. Now, 20 years later, we get to see the fruits of the transformation and democratic change in our country. Volunteers can experience firsthand the hard-earned gains that have come as a result of the country's liberation struggle. But CCS volunteers will also be faced with the many challenges ahead. Political freedom in our country has yet to translate into economic and social freedom for the majority of our citizens.

For international volunteers who are interested in history, global relations, race relations, and post-conflict situations, South Africa is a place of significant interest. Volunteers often say that it's refreshing to be volunteering in Africa in a country where people are talking about important and controversial issues rather than politely whitewashing over them.

Volunteer Abroad in South Africa

Alexis: How does the volunteer experience in Cape Town apply to the bigger picture global issues?

Luann: The issues being discussed here relate to all human beings in the world. Classism, racism, education standards; our program is a little cross section of the bigger global crises that are happening all over the world. What volunteers experience in our program raises questions about how what happens in South Africa is connected to other parts of the world. We should all have a chance to understand how the world is connected and how what happens in one part of the world impacts the rest of the world.


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