Cape Town’s environment: A living classroom for international students

28 Mar 2017 - 14:45
Students are treated to a curriculum combining visits to Cape Town’s top tourist destinations, exploring sites of rich biodiversity, and lessons on the city’s past and present political context.



The “Humans and Nature” programme ran from January 3 to 24, with 13 students visiting from Queens College from the City University of New York.

The aim of the programme - which was facilitated by Professor Larissa Swedell, the Associate Professor at the Department of Anthropology, Queens College - was to gather and share information about Cape Town’s environment through experiential learning by, for example, visiting natural parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The city became a living lecture hall for the participating students.

For a historical perspective, students toured Robben Island, Iziko Natural History Museum, the Slave Lodge, and the District Six Museum.

Cape Town’s other popular tourist destinations also formed part of the programme’s site visits with Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens, and Cape Point displaying the city’s landscape.

“Kirstenbosch and Cape Point were by far my favourite,” says one of the students, Anna Feldman, “I really wanted more time at Cape Point; I wanted more time to really absorb the beauty!”.

Students also visited two townships, Langa and Macassar. Here, they feasted at Le Lapa and spent time working at the Macassar Pottery.

“I enjoyed the excursion that was outside of the affluent tourist areas,” said student Gabriela Averado. “We should support local communities like Macassar”.

The feedback from students spoke for itself; the programme had been a success. Students indicated that they had enjoyed every aspect of the programme and felt that their trip to Cape Town had been a memorable experience.

One of the participants Joshua Khalfin said the programme organisers had done an “extremely great job planning and organising”, while another student Michele Hu says, “One of the better study abroad experiences – very interactive and organised”.