Study abroad in South Africa


South Africa

Zimasa Community School is a public primary school located in Langa, Cape Town’s oldest black township.  They serve kindergarten through ninth grade with over 1,400 students and have been operating for over forty years.  It is one of the best schools in the township and sends graduates to some of the best high schools in Cape Town.


Kevin Foley
Spring 2012

As a service learner at Zimasa, I moved around the school quite a bit. I worked with the deputy principal to help teach Life Orientation to the 9th graders and also worked with the 6th and 7th grade English teacher. In Life Orientation, I taught classes dealing with drug and alcohol abuse, citizenship in South Africa, and personal beliefs and talents. One of my favorite activities I organized was a talent show in which the students showed off anything from their incredible singing voices to their goofy dance moves. In the 6th and 7th grade English class, I worked a lot with identifying parts of speech. One of their favorite activities that I did with them was Mad Libs, which they had never heard of before. I also became involved with sports at Zimasa and spent a few Saturdays and Wednesdays at the schools rugby matches or soccer games. This was where I really grew close with some of the teachers and the principal, and I am really grateful for the times I was able to just hang out with the students on the sidelines of the rugby field.

One of the major challenges with the South African education system is that they have overcrowded and understaffed classrooms. You may be put in front of a classroom with 35-40 students. I learned this semester to simply embrace the chaos that ensues in this type of atmosphere and enjoy that chaos. Even if things don’t go the way you planned, the students will still more than likely take valuable lessons from the lesson plan you are implementing. Zimasa is an incredible school full of hard working teachers and learners! I am so grateful for every moment I spent at the school and for every relationship I formed with the teachers and the learners! As an education major, I will take the things I learned there with me for the rest of my life.

Email Kevin for more information.


Emily Lesko (St. Joseph's University)
Fall 2010

At Zimasa Community School, I work as a teacher aid along with the deputy principal. I help out with teaching the 8th and 9th graders life orientation class. Life orientation is a class where students learn about subjects such as fitness, careers, and how to live healthy life styles.  One of the projects I have been working on is bringing in different members of the community in to speak to the students about their careers. It gives the students a chance to be exposed to the different jobs around the area. Zimasa has been an amazing opportunity for me. I have grown so much from each and every person in that school. The faculty and staff are wonderful individuals who truly care about their students. I’m going to be sad to leave the school at the end of the semester.

E-mail Emily for more information!

Patrick Duffey
Fall 2009

As a service learner, I work alongside the deputy principal and teach a ninth grade life orientation class.   The subject matter covers a variety of topics including HIV prevention, South African culture, healthy living, and politics. I have been encouraged to start new projects with the students.  During a unit on physical education, I worked with the staff to organize a hiking trip.  Also, with it being the last year of primary school, I am working with the deputy principal on a career day with local professionals from Langa.

Working at Zimasa has been one of the best experiences of my life.  Welcoming and friendly, the staff is very helpful and has assisted me the entire way.  The entire staff has grown up in the townships of Cape Town, with the majority from Langa and some even attended Zimasa.  It can be difficult at times because I only teach two days a week.  Organizing projects or assigning tasks was tough because I would often not see the students for a week at a time.  As an American, the students love to discuss the differences between the two cultures.  Although I am only five or six years older than my students, the staff appreciates the opportunity to give the students a peer role model who is absent in a community filled with gang violence and unemployment.

E-mail Patrick for more information!



Office of International Education

OIE works to promote the internationalization of Marquette University by recruiting and advising international students and scholars, developing vibrant partnerships with international institutions and providing innovative study abroad opportunities.
Office of International Education