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Cape Town Community Development Course

Contribute to Vital Community Development Initiatives in South Africa

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

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The Course

This inter-disciplinary course, accredited by universities and colleges around the world, introduces students to international service-learning and sustainable development, both 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 course 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 the experience, which will be lead by qualified group facilitators who are trained to enhance individual student development. The course curriculum will be tailored to your students’ academic needs as well as any faculty requirements.

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

For full details of the curriculum, you can download our Service Learning Curriculum PDF here.

Learning Objectives

Participants in this course will:

  • Experience global learning contexts associated with international service-learning
  • Learn about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how they are implemented both domestically and abroad;
  • Explore their role as a development actor through in-country service-learning and reflection;
  • Develop greater intercultural competency, global awareness, and a sense of global citizenship; and
  • Enhance personal and professional capacities of writing, reflection, communication, flexibility, adaptability, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving.


The Project in Cape Town:

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. These initiatives collectively incorporate the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals listed below:

  • SDG no.1: End poverty in all of its forms everywhere
  • SDG no.4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
  • SDG no.9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and forest innovation
  • SDG no.10: Reduce inequalities within and among countries
  • SDG no.16: Promote just, peaceful, and inclusive societies

The course will focus on improving basic human rights through educational development, infrastructure improvement, and reciprocal cultural exchange. Students will critically examine their individual and collective on the ground impact asking pertinent questions in order to evaluate their successes and challenges. They will receive continuous support from qualified staff members who will help relate and connect the students involvement with the community development projects and the SDG’s.

Please note that courses can tailored to a group’s in-class curriculum; however, specific work will always be dependent on the needs of the community and our local partners at the time.


Students will be located just outside of the breathtaking city of Cape Town, 45 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city center in the coastal community of Gordon’s Bay.

The city of Cape Town is dominated by the magnificent Table Mountain and Lions Head peak, the trendy suburb of Camps Bay, and the waterfront areas of Greenpoint and Seapoint. Renowned for its natural wonders, artsy enclaves, and stunning diversity the city never fails to amaze.

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.

Example Itinerary:

This course varies in duration, depending on project requirements as well as cultural expeditions or activities. The below outlines a one week course; 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:

  • A dedicated trip co-ordinator
  • Pre-departure information
  • Flight bookings service on request
  • Accommodation
  • In-country support
  • Group leader
  • Insurance on request
  • 24/7 back up and support
  • Food and drinking water
  • First aid equipment
  • Comprehensive health and safety procedures (Emergency Action Plans and Risk Assessments)
  • In-country transport costs
  • Access to local medical facilities
  • Up-to-date safety and country information
  • Highly experienced and well qualified GVI field staff

What’s Not Included:

  • Visas
  • Vaccinations
  • Personal kit
  • Additional spending money
  • Flights

Please note prices are subject to seasonal fluctuation and will vary depending upon the needs of the group. **Optional extras include travel insurance and flight services

The Langa tour was was my favourite part of the trip because it was nice to really see how people lived and what South Africa’s culture is like. Getting to eat chickens feet was cool too.”


Cape Town Community Development 2015

Course Details


Africa – South Africa – Cape Town


From 1 week +

Course Focus

Community Development

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7 Day PDF


14 Day PDF


This project gave me the opportunity to be exposed to different areas of my career.

Emily Maher

Cape Town 2012

Interested in this exciting opportunity?

Get in touch, and secure your future by learning the right way.

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