South Africa

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

–Nelson Mandela,

Long Walk to Freedom

Why Port Elizabeth?

Despite democratization and the dismantling of apartheid in 1994, the legacy of its brutal political oppression continues to afflict South Africans, and millions still suffer the ramifications. These include, but are not limited to, desperate poverty, little or no access to basic services such as water and sewage systems, lack of access to basic health services, and inadequate educational opportunities. The intent of the South Africa Project is to provide a dynamic opportunity for Vanderbilt students to engage in meaningful service in some of the most marginalized areas of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.


The South Africa Project is designed to prepare and equip students to make a positive impact through study and action. Beginning in the spring, students participate in a series of seminars that help develop a culturally sensitive and impact-oriented mindset that will be put to use during four weeks of service. Non-profit organizations currently in need of volunteers in Port Elizabeth include:

1) Missionvale Care Centre — A holistic center committed to providing consultation, self-development, and love to people of the land township of Missionvale. Volunteers may choose from the following areas:

  • Primary School
  • Nutrition Unit
  • Medical Clinic
  • Child Support and Developmen
  • Community Garden
  • Clothing Warehous
  • Crafter Unit

2) Izizwe Projects — An organization devoted to the support and uplifting of children from the Walmer Township, many of whom directly or indirectly experience the effects of HIV/AIDS. Programs offered include:

  • African Renaissance Dance Group
  • Walmer High School
  • Primary Schools
  • Homework Guidance Group and Matriculation Support Group
  • Preschool
  • Human Dignity Centre

3) Coega Door of Hope — An orphanage and refuge for 38 children founded by Mama Gladys whose mission is to provide neglected children with a safe shelter, a good education, and plenty of love and care.



Beginning in the spring, students participate in a series of seminars designed to equip them with the tools to view global service through an informed and impact-oriented lens.  Seminars typically cover such topics as:

  • An overview of politics, economics, and culture in South Africa
  • Practical training and cultural sensitivity
  • An introduction to principles of sustainable community development, social justice and global citizenship
  • Consideration of the ethical issues involved in volunteerism in the developing world
  • Reflection techniques and team-building skills


Local Partnership

Founded in 2005 by Martijn van der Put, Khaya focuses on building relationships with organizations in Port Elizabeth in order to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for both locals and international volunteers.

Khaya pursues a long-term commitment towards the local community, works according to sustainable principles and involves local residents in its organization. Projects offered tackle relevant problems, offer rational solutions and achieve well formulated long-term results.

Learning Outcomes

  • Conceptualize a service experience in the context of the South African socio-political and cultural environment
  • Serve the needs of others through intentional observation and active listening to a community’s self-identified needs
  • Understand the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of those offering and receiving service
  • Expand critical thinking through examination of deeper issues related to equity and justice
  • Realize your potential to affect community change while maintaining a humble appreciation of the challenges of impact
  • Apply learning to future projects and broader issues such as social responsibility, public policy, and citizenship
  • Inspire reflection, which extends to a depth that could not be predicted or required and challenges preconceptions and assumptions
  • Develop interpersonal skills in conflict resolution and group decision making

Dates & Costs

Information Session:

October 29, 2013 | OACS Lounge, Rand 305 | 5:30pm

2014 Port Elizabeth Program Dates:

June 1st – June 28th, 2014

2014 Program Fee:

$2,800 + Flight

* Please note dates and costs are subject to change


Application Requirements:

  • Online Application
  • One Letter of Recommendation
  • Financial Aid Forms
  • Current Resume

The application form can be found HERE.

OACS South Africa Financial Aid Form 2014



For questions regarding the OACS Global Service Project to South Africa contact Lauren Moon: