Students on this program typically experience two homestays: two to three weeks in an urban area and a one-week rural homestay.
Depending on the year, the urban homestay takes place in either Cato Manor and/or Newlands.
In Cato Manor, students live with Zulu-speaking host families in a working-class township, where they learn “survival” Zulu and also gain an appreciation for the richness and challenges of township life.
Cato Manor has a rich history of African and Indian resistance and culture. The area is famous for the race riots in 1949 and the beer hall riots of 1959, which resulted in the area being declared for “whites only.” The community was destroyed, houses were torn down, and residents relocated to other areas. The land remained vacant—save a scattering of churches, mosques, and Hindu temples—until near the end of the apartheid period, when African and Indian families began to move back to Cato Manor to reclaim their land. Acknowledging the need to redress the wrongs of the past, the post-1994 government designated Cato Manor a lead urban development project and built low-cost housing, a heritage center, schools, libraries, community centers, and clinics.
The homestay in Newlands is with Coloured and Indian families. The area, which is home to Coloured and Indian families of differing socioeconomic status, was created as a “non-white” area during apartheid. The area has its own rich cultural dynamic and offers an experience markedly different from that in Cato Manor.
The urban homestay gives students the opportunity to gain an appreciation for life in an area facing a number of social challenges. Students witness how their host communities manage to maintain a strong and vibrant civil society and work diligently to initiate change from within.
Rural Homestay in Amacambini
Students also have a short homestay in a rural area of KwaZulu Natal, Amacambini, located approximately 100 kilometers north of Durban. Students are usually placed with host families in pairs.
In Amacambini, students experience rural life and gain practical experience working at and observing educational efforts in a “winter school” for secondary school students. Students observe the stark contrasts between these rural and historically disadvantaged schools and the advantaged, predominantly white schools in South Africa’s urban areas.
Conditions in Amacambini are basic, and students find a marked difference between households; many do not have electricity, indoor plumbing, or piped water.
The area of Amacambini is currently under the leadership of Nkosi Mataba, and the land is held in trust for the community by a traditional authority. Formal employment rates are low and livelihoods in aMacambini revolve around small-scale agriculture and remittances from family members living in nearby cities.
The Amacambini area has recently been earmarked for a multibillion rand development project that would see thousands of families removed from their ancestral lands. The planned development initiative is for AmaZulu, a Disneyland-style African theme park. Members of the community have taken a strong stand over their right to determine any development that occurs on their land.