The Limpopo Province in South Africa is home to unique wildlife, landscapes, and a spectacular variety of animals. GVI programs are located about 6 hours north of Johannesburg, near the tiny town of Hoedspruit, which is close to the world-famous Kruger National Park and home to South Africa’s Big 5 wildlife. The program will focus on gaining a better understanding of the local ecosystem in Limpopo and preserving its biodiversity. Other elements that may be examined are water security, climate energy, and access to clean energy.
These projects range in content suitable for students studying academic disciplines such as:
- Biological & Environmental Sciences
Example project activities include:
- Learning wildlife monitoring techniques and species identification
- Investigating invasive species management and participating in their removal
- Environmental awareness/education workshops.
I cannot begin to count the ways that completing the course has added value to my life. I came to South Africa with no experience or knowledge of the bush except what I had learned from David Attenborough and other documentaries and books. Despite this I knew it was something I was passionate about was determined to make the most of my experience. I now spend every day assisting with the conservation and management of the reserve I work on.
I am now research guiding for Limpopo Eco Operations and devote much of my time to monitoring the rhino population on the reserve which is a direct result of the qualifications I gained on the course.
What's Not Included
This inter-disciplinary program introduces students to international service-learning and sustainable development in content and practice. 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 the experience, 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.
- 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
- International and domestic airport taxes
- Medical and travel insurance
- Personal kit
- Police or background check (where necessary)
- Visa costs
The objectives for each GVI project are based on specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In Limpopo, students will largely contribute to pre-established environmental monitoring and research initiatives by collecting and reporting critical data. Emphasis will also be placed on increasing awareness surrounding pertinent conservation issues and knowledge of the local environment.
Limpopo'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 Limpopo:
1) To provide long term and consistant data for Karongwe Reserve Management to assist with Reserve Management decisions based on scientific data
2) Increase local awareness of GVI's purpose and impact on Karongwe PGR
3) Increase scientific output
4) Contribute to three large scale reserve management projects alongside the Warden in accordance with the Reserve's Management Plan
5) Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training
6) Increase our in-country capacity through community upliftment projects
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 Limpopo 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 Johannesburg Airport and Transfer to Base
The group arrive at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, where they will be met by GVI staff or representative. Transfer to the reserve takes 6 hours and is a great opportunity to absorb the surrounding landscape as the group travels north into the Limpopo Province. The rest of the day is spent exploring the accommodation and getting settled in and prepared for the time ahead. A welcome dinner, South African style, will act as an icebreaker and the chance to get to know the GVI staff.
Day 2- Welcome and Orientation
The day will kick off early with a welcome presentation and camp tour. Students will be introduced to the project and it’s background, and will be taken on a reserve orientation walk. Risk Assessments, Emergency Action Plans, as well as Health and Safety issues will be discussed in detail. 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 3-5- Daily Structure: Service, Education, and Reflection
The exact project will be based on the requirements of our local partners at the time. The group can expect to be involved in a variety of environmental awareness activities, discussions and lectures. This may include learning about animal identification and behavior, as well as how to track animals and navigate in the bush, key survival techniques, and basic astronomy. Most importantly, students will learn about how the ecosystems in Limpopo work and will discuss subjects like geology, local history, soils, plant life and the climate.
GVI’s nearby research base is involved in the collection of data on large predators such as lions, leopards and cheetah. The information gathered is used to give an accurate picture of the predators’ impact on prey populations, determining social structure, genetics, and spatial movement. This vital information helps maintain a healthy balance of these natural resources and ultimately conserve some of Africa’s important ecosystems. Students will be exposed to various methods of data collection and monitoring during their time in the Limpopo.
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- Community Service Day
We will pay a visit to the local school, one of our local partners, and offer environmentally-focused lessons. Students will have a chance to interact with the local children and teachers to experience first-hand what a rural South African school looks like. The day usually ends in a soccer game!
Day 7- A Fond Farewell
GVI field staff transfer the team back to the airport and bid them a fond farewell! GVI will endeavor to keep the group informed of any updates there might be in the field, with particular reference to the projects participants contributed to during their time in South Africa.
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.