SBS Partners with Community in South Africa for Summer Course on Civic Engagement

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The SBS in Cape Town program brought together students from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) and the community organization Ikhaya le Langa in a partnership to create community connections in South Africa over the summer. 

Ikhaya le Langa and the UMass partnership was born out of the course “Empowering Communities through Civic Engagement,� offered by the SBS and the International Programs Office (IPO).

The partnership focused on community-based learning, social entrepreneurship and reciprocity as an effort to increase leadership skills and agency for community change. Many of the students who participated in the program received scholarships from SBS and IPO.

Communication senior Ania Dos Reis, one of ten students who participated, took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa because she says it connects with her goal of doing humanitarian work.

“Professionally I had the chance to learn different life skills that could be applied globally and I think that is the beauty of traveling to South Africa,� Dos Reis said.

The engagement course, hosted at the University of Cape Town, was taught by Mari Castañeda, SBS associate dean for equity and inclusion and professor of communication, and Joseph Krupczynski, director of civic engagement and service learning and associate professor of architecture.

Through the community partnership, university students including Dos Reis, partnered with Ikhaya le Langa’s ambassadors program to produce a collaborative civic engagement project that involved asset mapping, story captures, intercultural dialogue, reflection narratives and visioning activities about the future of Langa, the oldest historically black township in the Western Cape.

The asset mapping activity involved five teams, each comprised of two university students and two ambassadors, and each team covered five specific areas within Langa. The goal was to map and highlight the assets which best reflected each area, such as people, institutions, associations and businesses. More than 130 community assets were identified and highlighted.

The SBS in Cape Town program will run again in summer 2020. For more information, contact Mari Castañeda at [email protected]