The Experiment in International Living participants with a local The Experiment in International Living participants with a local

South Africa: Leadership Development and Social Change

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Program Opportunities


  • Living Situation


  • Cultural Immersion


  • Health & Safety


  • Program Administration


  • Personal Development


South Africa multiculturalism: an experience of a lifetime

The South Africa Multiculturalism program is truly remarkable; the curriculum and day-to-day activities go into astounding depth and summarily make any text book's rendition of the situation incomplete. For example, our tour guide on Robben Island was a former prisoner and he cast a more personal light on the prison, his fellow inmates, and the apartheid era. Learning from a man who had lived through that now-fading experience made the horrors that transpired there much more real to us. Such instances, combined with the complete cultural immersion of the homestay, really communicate the ideas that the program is trying to convey. There is much to be gained by visiting historical sites and museums, but that pales in comparison to the bonds made and lessons learned thanks to a host parent's wisdom or a host sibling's opinion on their culture and the happenings of their country.

Besides learning about those things, participants also learn a lot about themselves during the program. Probably the biggest opportunity for personal growth comes from interacting with people who come from backgrounds different from your own. The program had that covered as there were 13 group members from all over the United States and 3 from South Africa. Our different lifestyles and experiences insured that we all had stories to tell. And in the unlikely event that there is little to gain from other group members, the program is inherently transformative: crossing 8,000+ miles of ocean and multiple time zones to live for a month with people you have never met before can change you in unimaginable ways. It does sound daunting, and for the first day or so it actually is. Everyone has those initial apprehensions but once you completely trust your highly trained group leaders and create friendships with the other group members, you will find yourself having the time of your life. From there lessons are learned that will stay with you forever. My only complaint was that I didn't have another 11 months.