Alumni Spotlight: Tian Sisak, South Africa

by isvolunteers on Sunday, 13 September 2015

It’s feedback like this that makes all our staff work so hard to facilitate the ISV experience! Tian Sisak from Macquarie University,  thanks so much for sharing your experience in South Africa with us below!  


“To put my first week as a volunteer in South Africa into just a few paragraphs is almost impossible. I’ve learnt more, been challenged more and met more interesting people than I have ever have before in my twenty-one years of living.


Tian Sisak volunteering on an ISV Community Development Program in South Africa (c) International Student Volunteers

My initial expectation of the trip was that I would feel a sense of satisfaction from helping those who needed it.  I quickly realised that I too was was in need of help –  a different kind of help. The kind that opens your eyes and mind, allowing you to feel things you have never felt before.

Each day on project, our group of thirteen, along with Jax (our ISV Project Leader), Miller and Ash (our Host Organisation leaders), worked on restoring a crèche named “Mandela Park Day Care” situated in Yezinyawo, Eastern Cape.

The task of watering the vegetables in the garden was my very first assignment and it was not as simple as getting the hose and turning on the tap. I realised that the most basic tasksI had taken for granted in Australia were a much longer process here. Watering the garden involved walking a short distance to fill buckets and carrying them back individually.  By the time I had reached the vegetables, I had spilled the water all over myself! I received support from the excited kids in the community every step of the way.

No task was ever dull or without reward.  A few boys even decided to stop playing with their hand-made wooden go-kart, lending it to us to pull the buckets along. If there was a lesson to be learnt that first day, it was that we should all try to be more like these boys. Every day was much like this, and every task became a fun activity with an abundance of laughing children around. They were always trying to assist us, even when the job really was labor intensive. When they were not assisting us, they were showering us in hugs and kisses.


The community are so happy with their new creche! (c) International Student Volunteers

When we were not working, we were discovering steep dunes on the beach to conquer, or going for breathtaking hikes through the bush and on the beach. In just one week, I made friendships that will last a lifetime. A family unit formed in the house thanks to bonding activities like beach volleyball and late night card games. It has made my experience in South Africa and volunteering so much more than I expected.

Jax’s enthusiasm and knowledge of all things in South Africa and sustainability inspired all of us to work that much harder to complete our project goals.  My daily interactions with not only the kids, but also with Jax, Miller and Ash, have allowed me to view the world from a different perspective – one where an individual really does have the ability to make a difference.

That is what Volunteer Africa and ISV have offered me, and I have gladly accepted.

A happy little volunteer,
Tian Sisak”

To learn more about ISV Programs please visit our website!

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