South Africa: Leadership & Social Change

This program has been paused and is currently not being offered. View more programs from The Experiment in International Living.

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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

The Experiment Summer 2021 Programs

At The Experiment, we understand that intercultural connections between young people are now more important than ever. The world is ready to recover and rise to new challenges, and The Experiment is committed to working together across cultures. Check out our programs abroad for this summer 2021: Costa Rica: Biodiversity, Ecology & Sustainability, Jordan: Arabic Language & The Middle East, and The Netherlands: LGBTQ + Rights & Advocacy.

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!…


9 Rating
based on 7 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 71.43%
  • 7-8 rating 14.29%
  • 5-6 rating 14.29%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Growth 8.4
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 8.4
  • Safety 8
Showing 1 - 7 of 7
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Yes, I recommend this program

South Africa Leadership & Social Change- EIL

When I first arrived in South Africa I was terrified, but soon after I felt welcomed with open arms. I learned so much about the history of South Africa and learned how to appreciate everything that we have. I was able to build long loving friendships and make so many memories with amazing people. This trip was so enjoyable yet education. There were so many breathtaking views. The homestay was one of the best experience I had, it was the highlight of my trip. Getting to know and be apart of a Xhosa speaking family was an experience that words cannot describe. The activities were so amazing, the safari, zip gliding, and the boat rides. I was able to gain more confidence and love from myself and others on this trip. This trip has shaped the way I see the world because everyone can benefit from learning from another culture.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would come in with an open mind and not have expectations so that I cannot be disappointed, because everything on its own is amazing.
2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My Trip In South Africa

My trip to South Africa was one of the best experiences of my life. It was my first time ever traveling and even with all my frights and emotions, I was able to make it. I had a very supportive group that made sure I was alright no matter what. Even when I felt uncomfortable, I didn’t feel forced to do all the activities and everything went at my pace. My favorite part of the trip was the homestay, I got to meet my new family and learn all about their culture. We did everything together as a family and it made me feel like I was very much at home. My goal for this trip was to come home more vocal. Before my trip, I would shy away from people and not be vocal with the important things that I have to say. But after coming home, I am very much aware of the power that a everyone’s voice has no matter what!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to travelers is to be open no matter what. You can’t go into a new country thinking everything is going to be like where you’re from. And try not to make comparisons, you’re in a new place for a reason.
1 person found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

South Africa!

I thought that my homestay experience was so unique and amazing. I had a great time getting to know my family and the community, and it was undoubtedly my favorite part of the entire trip. I not only had fun, but I also grew so much as a person. I had no idea how much I would learn from the members of the township that we stayed in going into this trip. Volunteering at the local school, doing community service, and just getting to know all the teens my age in the neighborhood... Everything was a learning and growing experience. I feel like this trip has completely changed the way I view the world and the way I want to live the rest of my life. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is up for an adventure and open to new experiences!

2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

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!

2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
1 person found this review helpful.
No, I don't 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.

2 people found this review helpful.
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

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

1 person found this review helpful.