When I landed at Durban Airport on April 15th, 2012, I had no sense of how soon my life would begin to change. The drive from the airport to Thanda Game Reserve seemed long, and as the warm African sun beamed down on me I began to fall asleep. The next thing I knew I was at Thanda, and as I unpacked my bags and looked out into the distance I saw several long necks moving gracefully among the trees. Giraffes! Barely 20 meters from my cabin! I definitely wasn’t in New York anymore, and I hadn’t even begun my work with the Zulu community. From my very first day at Etshaneni Crèche the children completely melted my heart. The Crèche itself is a very simple structure, a building divided into a main room where the children are taught, and a smaller, very basic kitchen area. Simple plastic chairs are available for the kids to sit, and there are no tables or desks so many of the activities are done on the floor. While at first I was struck by how much the children go without, I was even more quickly awed by how happy and appreciative they were. A hug, a high-five, a sticker, a smile - that’s really all that they wanted. The other community activities were no less motivating, and I often felt that I was learning even more than I was teaching. From singing in the Mange Crèche garden while learning to use a pick-axe (a skill that I will sadly admit I never fully mastered), to being taught traditional Zulu dances, to helping several grandmothers learn to read English for the first time, beaming with pride as they got the words right, every day provided something new, exciting, and challenging. Collaborating with my fellow volunteers back at Thanda was also an invaluable part of the experience, full of laughter and debates, varying outlooks and skill sets. I chose to volunteer with African Impact based largely on the recommendation of a friend, but also for the many different programs that they had to offer. Ultimately I decided to be a part of the Over 30’s Community program at Thanda for the incredible opportunity to live on a Big 5 Game Reserve while getting to work and teach in the local villages. To date it has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made, and has inspired me to look for work with a non-profit organization and continue to travel and volunteer as much as possible." About the Author After leaving her job to volunteer with African Impact for six weeks in the spring of 2012, Kaye Greenberg returned to Thanda Game Reserve for another four weeks in the summer and still had trouble leaving. Since heading home, she has traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Costa Rica - laughing and stumbling her way through it all. As her time off winds to a close, she is looking forward to working for a non-profit and continuing her world travels. You can find out more about our Over 30's Rural Pre-school and Community project at Thanda Game Reserve here. Come and volunteer with us in South Africa!