Program Details
Academic Disciplines Education
Global Health
Social Enterprise
Sustainable Agriculture
Women's Empowerment

Cape Town Community Development Service Learning Program

Contribute to Community Development Initiatives in South Africa while learning new skills

Program Information

Join our community development program in Cape Town, South Africa’s surrounding township areas. Work alongside local partners to improve infrastructure and the general learning environment for local communities while completing course work structured around specific learning objectives. Experience an educational journey outside of the classroom walls.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals


The program will focus on improving basic human rights through educational development, infrastructure improvement, and reciprocal cultural exchange, and will take place just outside of the breathtaking city of Cape Town, 45 minutes from the city center in the coastal community of Gordon’s Bay. GVI’s base in Gordon’s bay is a small seaside suburb. Having been involved in the area since 2008 (and South Africa for almost 15 years), GVI has established relationships with Ikhayalethemba Village Care Center, Nceduluntu Educare Center, Nceduluntu Grade R, and ACJ Primary School.

These projects range in content suitable for students studying academic disciplines such as:

- Women’s Empowerment
- Social Enterprise
- Sports and Exercise
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Education
- Global Health

Example project activities include:

- Providing skills-based workshops (e.g. English teaching, healthcare and healthy lifestyle,       EFR training, neonatal care, WASH, literacy support);
- Maintaining sustainable vegetable and herb gardens;
- Participating in rain water harvesting;
- Running sports clinics;
- Providing business development workshops (e.g. marketing and advertising, how to write   a business plan, budgeting and forecasting, SWAT analysis, presentation skills).



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Program Details

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This inter-disciplinary program introduces students to international service-learning and sustainable development in content and practice, in Cape Town, South Africa. Through lectures, discussion, research, service, and reflection (beginning two weeks prior to their departure and continuing two weeks after their return home), students in this program engage in meaningful, context-driven service-learning at home and abroad. Emphasis will be placed on relating long-term project goals with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and engaging in daily reflection surrounding theexperience, which will be led by qualified group facilitators who are trained to enhance individual student development. The program curriculum will be tailored to your students’ academic needs as well as any faculty requirements.

A GVI service-learning program provides students with the opportunity to live and work within the “classroom” of their chosen field of study, and to develop professional capacities associated with intercultural competency, global citizenship, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. By participating in this program, students will be prepared to contribute to solutions for critical global issues related to sustainable development within a local community, and alongside an international team.

The Project

The objectives for each GVI project are based on specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In Cape Town, students will largely contribute to need-based community development projects in Cape Town’s surrounding township areas that primarily improve the general infrastructure and learning environments for local disadvantaged children.

Cape Town's short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Cape Town:

1. Reduce our Carbon Foot print and impact on natural resources

2. Increase skills for local people to assist with equal employment opportunities in our communities Nomzamo for both men and women

3. Increase awareness of GVI projects in-country

4. Increased quality of health and safety conditions for children in the local community

5. Increase in-country capacity by providing training to less advantaged people in South Africa

6. Increase access to educational support programs in the community


Example Itinerary:

This program varies in duration, depending on project requirements as well as cultural expeditions or activities. The below outlines a one week in-country program; however, your in-country service can run for as many weeks as set by your academic curriculum, objectives, and requirements.


Two weeks prior to departure, students will be assigned readings and assignments. These assignments make sure they have a basic cultural understanding of Cape Town and it’s local conservation-based issues; a foundational understanding of international service learning and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and begin a dialogue surrounding global engagement. Materials will be chosen based on collaboration with the group’s educational leader to ensure the work fits within the group’s in-class curriculum.


Day 1- Arrival at Cape Town Airport and Welcome to Base

GVI will meet the group at Cape Town International Airport and transfer them to their base in Gordon’s Bay for their upcoming service-learning experience. There will be an initial welcome presentation and introduction to the GVI staff, history and background of the projects, as well as a health and safety breakdown.

Time will then be allotted for settling into the accommodation, sharing a meal, and partaking on an orientation walking tour of Gordon’s Bay. In the afternoon an educational language and culture class will be conducted to help familiarize students with the local area and basic phrases that will be used while on project. South Africa has eleven official languages, but luckily we will focus on only one! In the evening a reflection period will take place in which participants will debrief and review their initial reactions and observations on the experience and location.

Day 2-5- Daily Structure: Service, Education, and Reflection

Students will be transported daily to the project construction sites where they will work side-by-side local community members and our partner organizations. Specific projects will depend on the needs of the centers at the time, and could involve engagement in construction and renovation projects, as well as creative activities, basic healthcare and hygiene programs, and sports development initiatives.

All service elements will be connected to a greater understanding of the cultural context in which the students are working. Assignments, in the form of lectures, readings, written response papers, journal entries, group presentations, and miscellaneous creative projects will be conducted daily to enhance student learning from their service involvement. Daily reflection sessions will act as the bridge that connects and helps to synthesize the many aspects of the experience.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the ways in which participants are working towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students will critically examine their part in this process, by analyzing their contributions, challenges, and observations.

Day 6- Cultural Day

Understanding Cape Town, South Africa’s diverse and stunning culture means that exploration is an important component of the experience. We will tailor this day to the interests of the group. Options include: visiting the District Six Museum; a Township Tour; V&A Waterfront and Aquarium visit; a more widespread tour of the city; a visit to Silvermine South African National Parks reserve with hiking, swimming, and a BBQ lunch; or a visit to see the penguins at Boulder’s Bay. Some more classic Cape Town experiences might also be of interest to the group, such as taking a cable car up to the majestic Table Mountain, or a tour of famous Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 of his 27 years in prison.

Day 7- A Fond Farewell

On the final day, GVI staff will transfer the team back to the airport and bid them a fond farewell. GVI will stay in touch to keep the group informed of any updates there might be in the field, with particular reference to the continuation of the projects that students contributed to during their time in Cape Town.


Students will continue to engage with active reflection and educational expansion two weeks after leaving Cape Town, with emphasis placed on incorporating the international experience, and insights gained which are then applied to the students’ home context. Assignments will involve generating ideas to continue global engagement, connecting the experience to personal and career goals, and reflecting on the insights gained while in the field.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • A dedicated course co-ordinator
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Flight bookings service on request
  • In-country transport costs
  • Insurance on request
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs


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Enquiry Details

Speak to us about Scholarships, available if you book before the end of September.