March 1, 2024

Wittenberg is running a new study abroad program in Cape Town, South Africa beginning this fall.

Cape Town is located on the coast of South Africa and has a population of 3.74 million. Witt’s newest study abroad program, Witt in South Africa, will offer students experiences in exercise science, environmental conservation, history and sports. It will also include an internship, which can be catered to a variety of majors including education, business, marketing and more. 

The program was announced last Wednesday at an information session hosted by Associate Dean for Student Success, John Duraj, Professor of Biology, Margaret Goodman and Director of International Education, JoAnn Bennett. Over winter break, Duraj and Goodman visited the site where Witt students will be staying. At the info session, they shared their thoughts on Cape Town as well as general information about the program. 

“Cape Town is one of the most economically developed cities and ports in the world, with amazing food scenes, landscapes, ecosystems, histories and identities,” Duraj said. 

Goodman talked about how Cape Town blends a number of cultures within its booming cityscape.

“Cape Town felt the most cosmopolitan of any of the cities I’ve been in—and that includes Berlin, Paris and San Francisco,” Goodman said. “Part of what stood out to me was the mixture of East and West.” 

Duraj added that Cape Town will offer an experience most students would not expect from studying in an African country. 

“Many of the stereotypes you have of Africa will not be prevalent,” Duraj said.

Duraj then talked about the socio-economic conditions in South Africa.

“South Africa is complex in its identity and development,” Duraj said. “The country was under apartheid until 1994, and it’s in its first generation of what it looks like to be a free society.”

South Africa remained under a system of racial segregation, known as apartheid, from 1948 to 1994. Before apartheid, South Africa was a colony of the Dutch and British Empires. The economic legacy and social effects of apartheid remain apparent in Cape Town’s neighborhoods, workplaces, and educational institutions, among other areas of everyday life. 

“One of the things you’ll learn about and really need to understand is the impact of colonialism on South Africa,” Duraj said.

Duraj noted that students will visit places like Robben Island, where the anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and will be placed at the center of a political scene in which many young people today are challenging the government’s policies.

In addition to its history, Cape Town will also offer students encounters with public conservation efforts. Cape Town faced a severe water shortage in 2015. Through water-saving efforts, Cape Town has increased its dam levels. The city began reducing its water restrictions in 2018. 

“They have been actively figuring out how to conserve water in daily life,” Duraj said. “You will see everywhere you go how the city is overcoming its challenge of water shortage.”

Duraj said that Cape Town is also close to a number of natural formations like beaches and mountains, contributing to its many different species and ecosystems. During a mid-semester break, students will go on a week-long safari to parts of South Africa that are usually difficult to get to. They will also travel to a number of areas surrounding Cape Town on the weekends. 

Sports will play a large role in the South Africa study abroad program as well since sports are a huge part of daily life in Cape Town. The city hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and has lively soccer, rugby and cricket scenes.

In particular, students will take some classes at the Sports Science Institute (SSI) of South Africa, a subsidiary of the University of Cape Town, through a company Wittenberg already works with in Costa Rica called Beyond Sports. All classes will count as general education credits and will be taught by either Goodman or instructors at the SSI. The classes that will be offered this year are nutrition, basic human physiology, topics in global issues and business communication. Students will also have access to the gym and athletic facilities at the SSI. 

In regard to housing, students will stay in the Newlands Neighborhood of Cape Town, within walking distance of the SSI and internship sites. The student residence will be a standalone house with 10 bedrooms, four shared bath facilities, a full kitchen and kitchenette, and a large common area. Two meals per day will be provided. 

The two-credit internship opportunities offered will include projects with orphanages, public schools, grant writing, data analysis, sustainability and conservation, developing fitness and rehabilitation plans for different populations and many other opportunities.

The Witt in South Africa program will follow roughly the same guidelines as Witt in Germany and Witt in Costa Rica. Students will earn a full semester of academic credits. All Witt scholarships and financial aid will apply, so the program will cost roughly the same as a semester on campus, aside from a study abroad fee, airfare and personal expenses. 

The completion of 28 credits by the time of departure and a minimum 2.5 GPA are required to be eligible for the program.  Students interested in the program can learn more information and pick up an application at the Office of International Education. Applications are due by March 15. 

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