Spend your gap year in South Africa
Get to know the people and the culture of South Africa then travel the country with your group.
What you'll do on our gap year programs
“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.”Sophie, gap year South Africa
What You’ll Do on Your Project
What you do at the schools is up to you… Sports are HUGE in South Africa so if you are any good at cricket, rugby or football, you’ll be swamped with kids wanting you to coach them.
If you’re more creative, you can work with the younger children to build their skills.
There are also opportunities to work in the community. Just let us know how you’d like to contribute and we’ll make it happen.
Exploring South Africa
South Africa is home to iconic landmarks, huge scenic vistas and national parks where you could spot the big 5.
Travel during and after your project with your group – the possibilities are endless. Here are a few ideas from AV alumni:
- Hike up Table Mountain
- Explore Cape Town
- Visit Cape Point, the Drakensburg, the Garden Route and the Kruger National Park
- Riding safaris
- Surfing lessons on the Wild Coast
- Whale watching or sunbathing on South Africa’s stunning beaches!
All The Details
Briefing & Orientation
You will fly into O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg. One of our representatives will meet you and help with the transfer to your flight to Bloemfontein. Our AV representative, will meet you there and take you on the two hour drive to Philippolis, your home for the next three months.
A chance to settle in, unwind after the hectic few days leading up to your departure and get to know your AV group. The orientation course is important to make sure you are fully prepared when you start work with children in the community. The course will be led by the AV in-country representative, giving you a chance to get to know her too, and will cover the following:
- History, culture and customs of the Republic of South Africa (RSA)
- Safety, health and security
- Advice on communicating with your students and structuring English or sports sessions
- Education system in RSA
- Basic Afrikaans (the main language of the area, apart from English)
You will have the time to settle into your house and visit all five schools in the surrounding area.
What you do each day is partly down to you and what you have chosen to do; rarely are two days on AV the same!
Philippolis has five different schools, covering each age group. For those of you wanting to work with children and spend some time in the classroom helping them with English reading, writing and speaking, the South Africa project is therefore a great opportunity to work with children across a range of different ages. The term is also split into two shorter terms with a two week break in the middle – which you can spend in Philippolis or use to travel further afield.
A typical daily program is likely to see you working with primary school children in the morning as well as spending some time in the High School in the afternoons. If you don’t fancy running lessons in the classroom you may get involved with running small sessions or spending one-to-one time with children who need some extra help with their spoken or written English. There will also be time for extramural activities, such as sport, music, art and drama. In the classroom all lessons are taught in English and the schools appreciate help with English, maths, science, and computers (if they have any). You can work in pairs or on your own – it is up to you and how confident you feel. You will need to spend some time planning for clubs and sessions, and may even have homework to mark!
For those doing sports coaching you will run all the PE lessons and arrange sports clubs. PE lessons may involve big classes and little equipment; they are a good test of you initiative and resourcefulness. Games such as tag or duck, duck goose are great for their simplicity and mass participation. Sports clubs involving football, rugby, rounders, volleyball and netball are all actively encouraged. There is also the option of teaching new games which you might know. Many AVs arrange fixtures or tournaments between the different AV schools or an inter school sports day.
In addition to running English sessions or on the sports’ field, AVs make a big impact by running school clubs – these have included debating, reading, French, modern dance, art, music or drama. AVs have also been involved with community projects and painting classrooms.
Each day you will spend time socialising in the staff-room, getting to know you fellow teachers and learning more about them. They will be keen to talk about where you are from, your family and life at home! The teachers will be on hand to show you round and advise where to shop, the nearest internet café etc. They will also be a good link into the community, with the potential for helping at local orphanages, medical clinics or community centres depending on what you want to do.
At weekends and public holidays you can stay at home or travel further afield with the other AVs. Some weekends you may want to do a bit of painting/building work at your schools or organise a sports’ event; and on others, South Africa awaits! The Orange/Xhariep River is on your doorstep and towns such as Ladysmith and Bloemfontein only a couple of hours’ drive away.
You will live in a designated AV house with fellow volunteers, a short walk from the shops. An important part of the AV experience is living in the community, shopping at the markets and socialising with the teachers. Depending on the size of the group the AVs all live in one or possibly two houses. The house itself has shared bedrooms, a communal/cooking area and somewhere to wash. There will also be the traditional South African braai (B-B-Q) area in the garden! There is a water tap in the house and you will have intermittent electricity – there is often a two hour power cut across the country, which you will soon get used to!
We encourage independence and so you won’t have someone cooking and looking after you – it’s a chance to step up and take responsibility for yourself. You will be given a daily food allowance and will be expected to shop at and cook for yourself. This is the best way of getting to know people, being involved in the community and gaining an understanding of living there – you are not a bystander watching from afar.
The AV representative is never far away and there whenever needed. They can be contacted by phone 24/7 and will visit you during your project.
There is a two week break mid-project will give you a chance for some travelling but you won’t cover everything in this time.
But don’t worry, it’s not quite time to say goodbye…
AV includes approximately four weeks of independent travel at the end of the venture, to ensure a good balance of volunteering and adventure.
Cape Town and the world-famous Garden Route await with lots of exciting and beautiful places to explore, both the east and west. Many people want to stay on and travel but don’t know if others on the project will too.
Therefore we include this extra travel time to ensure that you experience as much as possible and know that you won’t be alone.
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