Tanzania, South Africa & Zimbabwe​:
Continuity and Change




Make an impact—spend a semester studying and working in communities in Tanzania, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

This semester-long study abroad program provides Sarah Lawrence students with the unique opportunity to study psychology, history, and public policy while getting hands-on experience with community organizations based in three locations in Southern and Eastern Africa. View map


Sarah Lawrence College and Pitzer work together in a multi-country comparative studies program that exposes students to important issues, cultures, and people of this region.

The program will take place in Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe (conditions permitting). The program provides students with an opportunity to learn about the multiple ways governments, NGOs and local communities in the region choose to approach issues that are common across borders, such as the colonial legacy, development, race, power, human rights and reconciliation, big game conservation, ecology and tourism, health care, education, and poverty alleviation. Students live with host families, participate in community projects, study local cultures and languages, and work with scholars and experts in each country. During the final month of the program, students will pick one topic to pursue in depth for an independent study project, culminating in a major paper.

Curriculum (16 Credits)

Core Course: Socio-political Change in Southern Africa (8 credits)

This course provides students with a broad overview of the region and each of the countries where the program operates, including history, politics, culture, religion, and important current issues, within which students are asked to place and analyze their personal experience. Through community engagement and rigorous academic study the course provides an opportunity for students to develop a comparative and regional perspective on important issues and topics covered in the course. Additionally, the course provides a focus on human development, with opportunities to learn how to understand, implement and evaluate effective community-based work in each location. Students engage in homestays, participate in service learning projects, engage in a series of lectures and discussions given by university faculty and specialists from governmental and non-governmental organizations, and take study trips to areas of historical, cultural and environmental importance.

An important part of the Core Course is a series of writing assignments, known as the Fieldbook, which ask students to integrate readings and lectures with the more experiential components of family stays, internships, and study trips to explore important issues from the host culture perspective and to deepen their cross cultural learning.

In order to gain firsthand experience with issues explored in the core course, students will work with a local or international organization in each country. A variety of opportunities are available, including, but not limited to work in a hospital or clinical setting, teaching in a government school, participating in an organization that advocates for human rights, working in wildlife conservation with a government agency or a non-profit organization.


Intensive Language Study (4 credits)

The program realizes the importance of learning the local language as a way to honor the host community, connect more deeply with locals, and open windows into the host culture. Students will study intensive Kiswahili in Tanzania, during the first month of the program, where it is spoken as a first or second language by 90% of the population. This course emphasize proficiency in speaking and listening through a highly communicative, interactive language curriculum that is closely connected to our community engagement work.

Independent Study Project (4 credits)

Students explore a topic of interest in depth. Capstone projects are guided by university scholars, local specialists, or program staff and may take the form of a research project, an apprenticeship, an internship with a school, clinic, government department, or non-government organization, or work in the Vaccine Development Institute at the University of Botswana (for students with appropriate science backgrounds).

Host Institutions

The program is affiliated with the St. Augustine University in Mwanza, Tanzania, the University of Zimbabwe, in Harare, Zimbabwe, and the Center for Diversity Studies at the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.



With over 100 different languages, Tanzania is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the region. Beginning during the program orientation at the University of St. Augustine, on the outskirts of Mwanza, students will study Kiswahili (spoken by 90% of the population) while living in dorms at the university with a possibility of homestays in the local community, conditions permitting. After the initial component in Mwanza, students will live and work at the Janada L. Batchelor Foundation (JLBF) MainSprings campus, in Kitongo, near Mwanza, on the shore of Lake Victoria, where they will continue to study Kiswahili while engaging the Mainsprings community fully and learning about community based work. MainSprings is a community-based organization that takes a holistic approach to addressing extreme poverty in East Africa, with four main areas of focus: refuge for abandoned and abused girls (with students being involved in mentorship and one-on-one tutoring), quality primary and secondary education (where students serve as assistant teachers in the Joseph and Mary school), economic advancement through agriculture and a restaurant-training business (with students involved in planting, watering and harvesting crops, working in their restaurant, etc.) and healthcare (where students provide administrative support in a newly instituted health clinic). A study trip to nearby Serengeti National Park will allow students to study Tanzania’s approach to wildlife conversation, environmental issues and tourism.

South Africa

Since the overthrow of Apartheid and the historic 1994 election, the Rainbow Nation has tried to strike a balance between the expectations of the hitherto marginalized black population and those of the white minority. A vibrant democracy and progressive constitution has resulted in a socio-economic and political transformation that has ushered in a new era of prosperity for the non-white marginalized groups that were excluded by Apartheid policies. Nonetheless, after two decades of post-Apartheid efforts, the country still struggles with high unemployment and poverty rates, and with major challenges around issues of healthcare disparities, housing, and education. Students live with host families in Soweto, the center of anti-apartheid movement, which, in combination with a series of lectures, study trips and community service projects, allow students to begin to unpack the complex issues behind South Africa’s recent history and transformative agenda.


Once the breadbasket of southern Africa and a model of post-colonial transformation, Zimbabwe has struggled politically and economically in recent decades. Despite these challenges, the country still has the highest literacy rates on the African continent and continues to play a significant role in environmental conservation efforts. Students live with host families in Harare while studying issues related to land and agriculture, politics, natural resources, ownership and management with University of Zimbabwe faculty. A weeklong study trip to Southern Zimbabwe provides insights into rural life and development while allowing students to explore the ecological, cultural and linguistic diversity of the country.

Living and Traveling in the Region

Study Trips

To better understand important local and regional issues, students participate in a number of study trips while in each country. Locations may vary slightly from semester to semester.

In Tanzania visits include cultural and historic sites in and around Mwanza, the shores of Lake Victoria, and a safari to the Serengeti to study Tanzania’s approach to wildlife conversation, environmental issues and tourism.

In South Africa, students explore Pretoria and Johannesburg, study race relations, reconciliation, and post-Apartheid South Africa through visits to Soweto, the Apartheid Museum, the Voortrekker Monument and Freedom Park, attend a rugby or soccer match (schedule permitting), and visit Krueger National Park and/or Madikwe Game Reserve to study contrasting styles of big game management.

In Zimbabwe, trips include Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Chobe National Park in Northern Botswana, the Great Zimbabwe Monument, and a trip to Matebeleland,

Family Stays

Host families serve as important co-educators on the program, not only for language and culture learning, but also as a way to allow students to further explore ideas and issues that are presented in lectures and readings. Host families allow students to experience first-hand the concept and life of Ubuntu, an important cultural value of the region, embraced in local greetings that proclaim, “I am well if you are well,” and “my destiny is intricately intertwined with yours.” This idea was at the heart of the post-colonial reconciliation process of Zimbabwe that became a model for South Africa’s post-Apartheid government strategy and its celebrated Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


In Tanzania, students live in dorms on the MainSprings campus where they will have an opportunity to form close relationships with the staff and students by participating fully in activities and life on campus. The program is exploring the possibility of homestays with Kiswahili speaking families near St. Augustine University, outside of Mwanza, during the initial part of the program.

South Africa

Students live with host families in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto, the heart of anti-Apartheid struggles in the 1960s. Soweto was and continues to be a hive of activity that presents an ideal location for learning about the anti- apartheid movement from those who participated in it, as well as the many post-Apartheid challenges facing South Africa.


Students live with professional families in Harare while participating in service learning projects and attending lectures given by University of Zimbabwe faculty and other experts. Host families provide students with an amazing opportunity to learn about Zimbabwe’s history to the recent elections and political and economic challenges facing the country today.



This program is open to Sarah Lawrence students only.

Applications & Deadlines

Completed application and don recommendation are due:

  • March 1 (for fall applicants)
  • October 1 (for spring applicants)

Tuition & Fees

Students are charged the cost of Sarah Lawrence tuition each semester.

Airfare for this program is included in the cost of tuition.

The cost of housing and suggested costs to cover medical insurance, vaccinations, visas, and personal expenses are available here.

Financial Aid

Sarah Lawrence College students who normally receive financial aid may apply their awards to any College-sponsored program abroad.

For more information about Sarah Lawrence financial aid options, e-mail the Office of International Programs.