South Africa: Multiculturalism in an Urban and Rural Society

Explore South Africa's diversity, complex history, and contemporary realities during this high school summer abroad program.

Embark on an immersive journey through multicultural South Africa on this summer abroad program for high school students. Learn about the country’s historic transition from apartheid to democracy, its cultural diversity and arts, and its ongoing efforts to advance civil society and human rights. Visit key historical sites, such as the Apartheid Museum and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison.

You will witness ongoing community development efforts and work on service projects with local residents. Projects could include assisting at a local school or soup kitchen, or helping to establish a community vegetable garden. Receive Afrikaans language lessons and participate in hands-on workshops focused on dance, music, and drumming.

The program’s broad geographic reach uncovers South Africa’s numerous cultures, languages, and landscapes. The program begins at the southern tip of the country in Cape Town, journeys east to historic Grahamstown for the city’s world-renowned arts festival, and spends two weeks in Kranshoek, an Afrikaans-speaking Griqua community, where you live with a host family. As the program travels north, you experience the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Mpumalanga, and a three-day safari in Kruger National Park. The program concludes in South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg.

Community Service Certificate: At the conclusion of this program, each participant will earn a community service certificate noting how many hours of community service s/he completed.

Orientation: Cape Town, 4 days
Homestay: Kranshoek,* 10–12 days
Other Accommodations: Guest houses, dormitories, lodges, and chalets/houses

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–5

Orientation in Cape Town

  • Learn about the history and culture of South Africahiking in South Africa
  • Get to know other members of your group during activities and discussions
  • Go on a historical tour of Cape Town
  • Take a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years
  • See penguins at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
  • Attend Afrikaans language lessons

During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located guest house.

Days 6–10

Thematic Focus in Grahamstown

  • See vineyards and orchards, the Outeniqua Mountains, the Garden Route, and the Tsitsikamma forests on your way to Grahamstown
  • Attend music, art, and theater performances and take part in citywide festivities at the Grahamstown Arts Festival

During this period, you and your group will stay in lodges and dormitories.

Days 11–22

Homestay in Griekwa Community

  • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a South African family and community
  • Do activities with your host family
  • Explore your host community and the surrounding area with your group
  • Cook meals with your family and learn about life in South Africa
  • Participate in a community development service project working with local youth to repair and refurbish a community center
  • Plant trees and participate in community beautification efforts

During this period, you will stay in the home of a family.

Days 23–27

Excursion across South Africa

  • Return to Oudtshoorn for a visit to the famous Cango limestone caves and a trip to an ostrich farm
  • Go on hikes, participate in outdoor activities, and see the stunning cliffs of Drakensberg’s Amphitheatre
  • Drive through the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to Nelspruit, the Gateway to Kruger National Park
  • Travel through Mpumalanga and see Blyde River Canyon and God’s Window
  • Spend two days at Kruger National Park experiencing the bushveld through daily game drives

During this period, you and your group will stay in lodges, inns, and camps.

Days 28–29

Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Johannesburg

  • Visit sites of interest in the city, including the Apartheid Museum
  • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program

During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located lodge.

Day 30

Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

These are leader bios from summer 2014.

Kelly McNulty

Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kelly McNulty graduated from Lafayette College with a BA in anthropology/sociology and American studies. Following graduation, she completed a teaching fellowship through Center for Inspired Teaching, in which she taught at a Washington, DC, public charter school. Kelly received an English teaching grant through The Fulbright Program in 2013 and spent a year teaching at a township high school in South Africa.

Kelly's experience with World Learning began in 2010, when she studied in South Africa on SIT Study Abroad’s Multiculturalism and Human Rights program. She has traveled extensively throughout sub-Saharan Africa and participated in service-learning programs both in the United States and Ecuador. Kelly holds a master's degree in teaching, and after leading the 2013 Experiment program to South Africa, she recently joined the World Learning team in a new capacity, as a full-time program associate for the Exchange and Training Unit. Kelly enjoys learning about new cultures, planning new adventures, hiking, and playing soccer.

Katelin Ryan

Katelin RyanBorn and raised on the east end of Long Island, Katie Ryan spent her childhood surrounded by farms, vineyards, and ocean beaches. She was only a train ride away from New York City, and some of her fondest memories include visiting museums and seeing Broadway productions with her family. From an early age her parents instilled in her a love of adventure, and it has inspired her to continue exploring our world.

While earning her BA in cinema and cultural studies at Stony Brook University, Katie began to spend most of her summers volunteering and working abroad. Katie has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Croatia, Egypt, New Zealand, and several sub-Saharan Africa countries. She's done everything from planting trees and working with orphan bears to constructing schools and leading after school-sports programs. Her travels have taken her glacier climbing, canyoning, sky diving, bungee jumping, and even zorbing! Katie spent three years working in South Africa, leading participants on conservation and community development programs before enrolling at SIT Graduate Institute to obtain her master’s in international education. After a summer leading The Experiment’s 2014 South Africa program, Katie began the practicum phase of her master’s program — which led her back to Africa once again, this time to help run the The Traveling School’s South-East Africa semester in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

My overall experience as an Experimenter this summer was one that I will remember for my whole life. I have learned how to adapt to new and uncomfortable situations. Besides a country’s complicated history I learned how to better myself as a person and be more open to new things. I will remember the things I saw, people I met and places I went forever.

Shelbi Swanson, Key West High School