South Africa: Leadership & Social Change

Peace, Politics, and Human Rights

Experience South Africa’s diversity, complex history, and modern life while learning entrepreneurial and leadership skills to make a difference in your own community.






Community Service



Rugged Travel

Outdoor Activity



Program Description

Embark on your immersive journey at the southern tip of continental Africa in stunning Cape Town, where you will learn about South Africa’s complex past and explore breathtaking sites, such as Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope. You will visit the country’s historical landmarks, such as Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

From there, continue to either Kranshoek, an Afrikaans-speaking community, or Kwanokuthula, a Xhosa-speaking community, for a homestay with a South African family. During the homestay, you will work on a service project alongside members of the community, take Afrikaans or Xhosa language lessons, and participate in hands-on music and drumming workshops.

As you travel north, you will experience the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the natural splendor of Mpumalanga, and a two-day safari in Kruger National Park, where you might spot elephants, lions, zebras, and rhinos in their natural habitat.

Your Experiment concludes in Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, where you will intensify the focus on leadership and social change. Visit important historic landmarks and the Apartheid Museum to better understand the country’s transition from apartheid to democracy. Explore the arty and business-forward neighborhoods of modern Johannesburg and complete a project on social or ethical entrepreneurship.

At the conclusion of this program, each participant will earn a community service certificate noting the number of hours of community service completed.






Program Fee:


(does not include airfare)
Group Airfare Cost:


Depart/Return City:

New York


Cape Town, 5 day


Kranshoek or Kwanokuthula*, 10–12 days

Other Accommodations:

Guest houses, dormitories, lodges, and chalets/houses

Sample Itinerary

    Days 1-5

    Orientation in Cape Town

    • Learn about the history and culture of South Africa
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities and discussions
    • Go on a historical tour of Cape Town and see the spectacular view from the top of Table Mountain
    • Take a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years
    • See penguins at Boulder Beach and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
    • Attend Xhosa  language lessons

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

    Days 6-7

    • Excursion Travel to Oudtshoorn for a visit to the famous Cango limestone caves and a trip to an ostrich farm

    Homestay in a Xhosa 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 or school
    • Plant trees and participate in community beautification efforts

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

    Days 19-24

    Excursion across South Africa

    • Go on hikes, participate in outdoor activities, and see the stunning cliffs of Drakensberg’s Mountains
    • 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 25-29

    Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Johannesburg

    • Visit sites of interest in the city, including the Apartheid Museum
    • Stay at the campus of the African Leadership Academy, a leader in training young African and worldwide to be innovative and socially minded leaders and entrepreneurs
    • Take a week-long workshop and develop a team project to create change and opportunity in a local community
    • 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.

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • 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

    Born 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.

Student Voices

  • 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, Key West High School

Pre-departure Documents

Summer 2018

Congratulations on your upcoming Experiment summer on the South Africa: Leadership & Social Change program. Visit our pre-departure page for information about our expectations, communications, and travel planning. In early 2018, our summer international information will be published in a secure page, found in the Parent Portal.

In early spring 2018, the following program-specific documents will be linked to this page:

Many questions can be answered by reviewing these materials, but please do not hesitate to contact us if further information is required. To submit or update your domestic travel and emergency contact information, please login in to the Parent Portal.

Important Passport and Medical Information

If you do not yet have a passport, or if you have not applied for one, you should do so immediately.

If you have not had a physical with your doctor since June 2017, make an appointment as quickly as possible, as your health form must be filled out based on a current physical.

Please bookmark this web page for easy use in the future.