South Africa: Leadership & Social Change

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Land in stunning Cape Town, where you will learn about South Africa’s complex past and explore sites, such as Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope. Visit the country’s historical landmarks, such as Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison.

From there, continue to either an Afrikaans-speaking community or a Xhosa-speaking community for a homestay with a South African family. During the homestay, you will work on a service, take language lessons, and participate in drumming workshops. You will experience a safari in Kruger National Park, where you might spot elephants, lions, and zebras in their natural habitat.

The Experiment ends in Johannesburg, where you will attend workshops at the African Leadership Academy, which trains young leaders who want to positively transform the world. Complete a project on social entrepreneurship and visit the Apartheid Museum to understand the country’s transition from apartheid to democracy.

  • Leadership
  • Community Service
  • Safari
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Homestay

Questions & Answers

I took a look at the eligibility on their website and it said that most Experiment programs are open to 9th-12th grade students who haven't gone onto college yet. Here's the link to answer more of your questions!


based on 4 reviews
  • Growth 8
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 8.5
  • Housing 8.3
  • Safety 7.3
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
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One of the best experiences of my life!

Going on The Experiment in International Living’s program to South Africa this summer (2018) was so amazing! The program itself was centered around the theme of leadership and social change, which are two subjects that I am very passionate about. Some of my favorite parts of the trip were hiking Lion’s Head in Cape Town, spending 10 days in an Afrikaans speaking community for homestay, and learning about sustainability at the Tlholego Ecovillage. There was always an activity or thematic workshop to do; the trip was never boring or too touristy. I feel like I came back to the USA with so much more confidence and ready to tackle the social issues facing my community. Our group leaders were some of the most supportive and nurturing people I have ever met, and always challenged us to get out of our comfort zones. My group was full of wonderful, diverse people from all over the US, and we all bonded really quickly. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking for some challenge and adventure- be warned that there will not always be things like WiFi and showers available to you!

Yes, I recommend this program
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South Africa Leadership Program

What I appreciated the most about this program 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 Mountain 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 apartheid and South Africa's history as we could get. We lived with host families and soon became a part of a community in Plettenberg 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.

How can this program be improved?
More exploration of the city of Johannasburg, rather than being locked up in ALA. More independence, although I understand the difficulty because of safety precautions.
Yes, I recommend this program

A Sheltered and Unprofessional Experience

The nation is beautiful and it provides many great experiences. (Safari, abseiling and exploring Cape Town.) However, I was not in love with the program. I signed up thinking I would gain a lot of independence and my leaders were competent. Both were false. We were traveling with a family the whole time. Although they were nice, it made the trip seem pretty fake. It also made it harder to bond as a group with more people in the mix. We were only allowed to be in groups of three when exploring. This was beyond frustrating and made it harder to get immersed in the culture. Our instructors were very unreasonable with this rule. We couldn't even go across the block or walk to the ATM without being in groups of three. I understand that South Africa is not known for being safe and why they wouldn't want us walking around in Cape Town all alone but I thought they could have been much more reasonable with that rule. I felt very safe in South Africa and I am a white person. I was also disappointed with the food on this trip. Although I had a lot of great South African food (especially on the homestay), they could have taken us to more rustic places to eat instead of South African fast food restaurants. We also barely ever talked about the "big picture" for the trip. I wish we would have talked about Nelson Mandela, Multiculturalism and its effects on South Africa, Sustainability, etc. more but we only talked about it probably about 1-3 times. Everything else, the safari, homestay, Drakensberg, Grahamstown, etc. was awesome. Bottom line is: go to South Africa and do everything you can there but try going with another program if you can.

Response from The Experiment in International Living

Thank you for your review, Roarke. We appreciate feedback from past participants. We allow our participants to go on independent excursions in groups of three (3), after checking in with a group leader.

With 84+ years of experience, The Experiment continually monitors and assesses the safety of our programs and our corresponding policies.

You can read our other health and safety policies here,….

-The Experiment in International Living Team

No, I don't recommend this program
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Falling in Love with South Africa

Between the beautiful hike to Cape Point, safari, and home stay with my new family I felt that I not only saw a nation but learned so much about the history and culture that I began to call myself a traveler- not a tourist. This has exposed me to traveling in the best way possible and I hope for the day when I can return to South Africa and see the nation I feel in love with.

Yes, I recommend this program


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About The Experiment in International Living

The Experiment in International Living is the most experienced provider of summer abroad programs for high school students. For more than 85 years, our immersive programs have allowed participants to explore the world in an authentic and impactful...