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South Africa: Leadership & Social Change
The Experiment in International Living participants with a local The Experiment in International Living participants with a local

South Africa: Leadership & Social Change

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Program Opportunities

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Personal Development

    10

South Africa: leadership & social change

What I appreciated the most about this programs was the immersion into South African culture rather than deeming ourselves the white saviours of poverty ridden Africa. We never bought a goat or installed a well. We watched and listened to the sounds of South Africa and its people rather than our own. I fell in love with everyone we met, everyone was so incredibly smart and funny, eager to share their worldview to such clueless North Americans. Because of this program my perception of the world has expanded beyond my Canadian and American experience. I'd never seen a mountain before and suddenly I was standing at the peak of Table Mountian overlooking the beautiful city of Capetown! Although I was an obvious tourist, with my pale skin, red hair, and Canadian accent, I never felt like one. Tourists are comfortable, viewing the attractions and landscape from a narrow lense. We were thrown into South Africa -- I was never fully comfortable and that's a good thing. We toured through Langa, a township a little outside of Capetown, where we saw inadequate housing like never before. We were warmly welcomed into a small room where clothes and furniture were stacked upon each other, a woman sat there and invited us to take pictures of her poverty as she explained that 5-10 people lived in this small room. We stood there boggled, our privilege glowing and becoming ever apparent. We hopped from museum to museum consuming all of the information about appartheid and South Africa's history as we could get. We lived with host families and soon became a part of a community in Plettenburg bay. I connected with people who speak a different language and live a hemisphere away, but it makes no difference.

In the end I felt very at home in South Africa. Because of my partaking in this program I have an experience that the majority of people will never have. I go to a high school where people take long vacations in France and Italy, living in the comfort of their hotel room. They could never imagine a life without heat or wifi. They've never woken because of the rooster's call, and they definitely have never walked down a paved street next to a wild cow. My world has changed because of this program. I highly recommend it to everyone and anyone! Especially if you want to experience a world outside of yourself.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Program Opportunities

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Personal Development

    9

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.