I definitely do not recommend ELI. I was in Cape Town, South Africa earlier this summer doing an internship and I returned early because I was so disappointed with the program. The coordinator (Karin Comer) is not organized at all; I really don’t think she even knows what she is doing. Starting with day one, she left me waiting at the airport for a good 15-20 minutes. Of course I started freaking out and was convinced that ELI was a scam. She finally showed explaining that she was late because there was ”confusion” with the airlines and the arrival times. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, but later I found out that she will leave you waiting at the airport so she can park, pick you up, and then leave quickly so she doesn’t have to pay for parking since she was only parked for a couple of minutes (she mentioned this to another intern who happened to tell me about it). If she was planning to be late I would have liked to known ahead of time. It’s just common courtesy. Also, she wasn’t good with paying rent either. Other ELI interns (about 6 of them) had to move out of their house because Karin had not paid the owner the rent. Also, in my house my roommates were without water and electricity for a week and a half because Karin had not paid those bills. We would give Karin the money and she was supposed to pay the owner.
Karin’s “assistant” (Ramon) was a 19-year-old kid who was completely useless. I asked him for help twice and the first time he was too busy playing a racing game (he told me this) and the second time he didn’t want to give me a ride because he was too tired. The first time I had asked him to give me a quick ride to a nearby 7eleven because I had no food and there was no one else to take me (I had only been in Cape Town less than a week and didn’t know my way around yet). The second time I had asked him if he could give me a lift to my house because my friend’s house (who was also an intern with ELI) had been robbed. My friend left quickly because she was obviously very scared and upset. I didn’t have a way to get back home and I was hoping this assistant would help me out. He instead got very upset and told me he was never helping me out again (so much for an assistant). When I had arrived in Cape Town, Karin had told me that if we ever needed anything we could call him, but apparently he thinks otherwise.
The house I was living in was okay, my roommates were nice (I had 8 of them), but the area was not safe at all. I did not feel comfortable there and you could tell it was not the best area. I have lived in other countries (including Mexico City and Lima, Peru) therefore I know what a dangerous area looks like. One of the other interns who I became friends with lived nearby (maybe a 5 minute drive) and her house was broken into. Her area wasn’t the best either. Her house was behind a train track. The coordinator (Karin Comer) did not even bother to show up to my friend’s house after the robbery. We were with the owner and the police but no coordinator. I called her because my friend (other ELI intern living at the house) was really upset and wanted her to come. I called Karin and instead she started arguing with me and saying that she could not come because it was too far for her and there was nothing she could do about the robbery. Basically, you were on your own.
The internship was the only thing I liked. It was also located in an unsafe are, actually it was a horrible area. There were homeless people walking around everywhere. It was horrible. I have no idea why this internship would be placed there (it was an advertising agency). I felt so uncomfortable and so unsafe. Plus, I had to take public transportation to get there and I felt even worse. If the internship would have been paid I would have stayed, but in the end it was not worth it. I was not comfortable in my house or at my internship. I felt so unsafe and after the robbery I had it. I was out of there.
If ELI would just get a new coordinator who was organized, dependable, and empathetic I think the program would be fine. But again, the program was cheap… so I guess you get what you paid for.