Cultural Immersion Program | South Africa
100% Rating
(2 Reviews)

Cultural Immersion Program | South Africa

India - with a difference!
We have only a few places left in our program in the Lepcha community in north east India starting on 18 Feb '18 - but you can start later if that date doesn't suit. We are a not-for-profit and, unlike other organisations, we accept no more than 100 each year - so hurry, hurry, hurry and don't miss out on a unique experience!

Cultural immersion is more than just being a tourist and seeing the sights, it's a unique opportunity to engage meaningfully with individuals and a community, to build relationships, make friends and live life as they do.

Our South Africa program is divided into three parts - orientation, cultural immersion placement and independent travel.

  • Orientation - a chance to settle in, get to know your group and make sure you're fully prepared for all aspects of your placement.
  • Immersion - you live and work with others in your group, sharing your skills, in one of our partner communities in in the Karoo, South Africa’s ‘Big Sky’ country. Key to the experience is the high level of independence we offer. We're always available, but we stand back and let you make the most of the experience.
  • Independent Travel - the final month of the program is free for you to explore the wonders of South Africa with your group. We're still here to support you whenever you need!
Locations
Africa » South Africa
Length
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
Language
English
Housing
Hostel
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    95%
  • Support
    100%
  • Fun
    95%
  • Value
    95%
  • Safety
    95%

Program Reviews (2)

Default avatar
Sophie
Female
24 years old
Wiltshire, England
University of Southampton

Best experience yet

10/10

How do you sum up an experience like the one AV offered? You just can't. The experience I received was one that will stay with me for the rest of my life (which I know is cliche but it's true!). The organisation of the whole program from start to finish was brilliant; with both my parents and I not having to worry about my safety at all. The scheme ensured that I gained the most out of my experience including really involving me in the community that we were based in for the majority of the time.

The main advantage of a scheme with AV is the perfect balance between volunteer work and free travelling. Primarily you are there to really immerse yourself in the community/culture in which you are based for volunteering, and this in itself offers many advantages that you would not gain from simply free-travel alone.Visiting the schools every day and seeing their beaming faces (and hearing chanting of your names!) and seeing their real appreciation of what you were doing for them was truly amazing. And when you were not helping out in the community in various ways, there was plenty of time to take trips out to go and explore the area like visiting tigers, swimming in lakes and visiting local towns.

Having the free travel time at the end of the experience also allowed you to experience and amazing safari and a surf school before embarking on your own adventures (with help from the scheme with planning if needed!). Wherever you were, you always knew you could call on someone locally if you needed.

Overall the experience brought with it strong friendships, new experiences and a feeling of doing something worthwhile for people who really appreciated it. I wouldn't have spent my GAP year any differently. Only wish I could do it all again!

Default avatar
Jon
Male
24 years old
London
Heythrop College

Still the best four months of my life.

10/10

It's been over four years since I travelled to South Africa with the AV programme, and whenever I look back at the photos or videos I feel a wrench in my gut. I worry that I'll never have an experience like that again. I miss it.

In total, there were nine of us; 6 girls and 3 boys. I think that was a good balance, and over the flight we got to know each other very well. Everything had been organised by AV, and they were there to meet us at the airport. True to rumour, the staff had already memorised everyone's name and details from their application photo, and so it felt like you already knew them.

I felt that the induction week was pitched just right. Although we'd just left school they didn't treat us like kids, it wasn't patronising. WE were allowed the freedom to start make the community our own, and I feel that this approach is what helped us to feel at home so quickly. Having said that, we were trained in the essentials, and I remember the teacher training being particularly helpful.

We were supported in the community by a lady called Kate Groch, but by the end of the trip most of us referred to Kate as 'mum'. Kate made introductions to our respective schools, and we arranged to start work. It was early starts, and lesson planning took longer than we expected, but we would all pile into our little living room and do our work together, which mean that it didn't feel like work at all.

To say that teaching in these school is not challenging would be untrue. It was hard. The sheer exposure of children living in such terrible conditions left us feeling pretty powerless, and that was the hardest thing. Kate was always there to support us though, and we supported each other. This helped us to get very tight very quickly.

I remember my mum being very happy when I managed to call her from a local payphone. AV had been calling her every now and then to keep her up to date with how I had fitted in to the new environment and how I was doing. I know that this was very important to her, she felt like I was being properly looked after and that she was a valued member of the experience, even though she wasn't there.

AV sent out staff every now and then. I felt that they got the balance just right. We never felt like we were being molly-coddled or 'supervised', but it was lovely to see a friendly face. They let us take the lead and explain what we had been up to, and they came along to watch us in action. We felt like this was our community now, and that we were showing our guests around.

A few months in, we got our first surprise treat from AV; a trip into the mountains of Lesotho on ponies! we were mostly novices but by now all had perfected our 'Just go for it' attitude. If something went wrong, somebody would shrug and say "TIA: This is Africa", and suddenly everything would be OK again. The trip was stunning, we even found a hidden waterful with it's own rainbow, although we had to trek upstream through a shallow river to get there!

At the end of the teaching experience, AV had organised a series of treats for us. We were on the road! We filled the long bus journeys with disney medleys, and were thrilled with our surfing lessons in what is surely the coolest hostel in the world. We felt very pampered in the luxury safari, and as this was all included in our initial price, we knew that all we had to worry about was our beer money.

Finally, we were afforded the ultimate freedom and independence in our 'free travel' phase. This was real growing up time, we travelled around and so had to book our own flights! AV had advised us on the delights of SA, and whilst one group headed east towards Durban and Mozambique, our group travelled along the south coast, South Africa's 'Garden Route'. A few of us took on the world's highest bungee jump, grabbing the DVD and earning bragging rights for years to come.

Then came an added bonus. Our flight home stopped off in Nairobi, and AV, who have representatives in Kenya as well, were able to link us up so that we could stay for a week in the capital! The three boys took full advantage of this, squeezing a quick safari to the masai mara.

This is still the best experience of my life. I look back and it feels like a blur. We were allowed to get things wrong, party hard, and make a difference.

About The Provider

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Africa & Asia Venture (AV) offers unique immersive gap year and summer programs in Africa and Asia for those aged 17 to 25.

We build groups of individuals and, normally in pairs or fours but never on your own, you will live in the local

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