Volunteer Service

Volunteer Service May Include:
IPSL South Africa partners with one comprehensive social service organization. This international  non-profit  recognizes that the challenges of homelessness and mental health requires innovative solutions. Giving people employment helps to give people a sense of belonging, purpose and dignity. They  offer rehabilitative employment helping vulnerable people a chance to heal themselves mentally and emotionally. Your specific placement within the organization will be determined by community and agency needs, as well as your interests, goals, and skills.
Employment and Skills Development though Urban Gardening
  • Garden planting, maintenance and planning
  • Harvesting
  • Marketing
  • Distribution


Community Education for youth and adult beneficiaries

  • Health Education

  • Counseling and Mental Health

  • Youth Leadership

  • Life Skills

  • Sports and Recreation

  • Micro-Enterprise Training

Ethical Service in South Africa

As an IPSL service-learning participant in Cape Town, South Africa, you will have the opportunity to perform volunteer service in one of IPSL' most innovative partner organization focusing on social services for the homeless, those struggling with substance abuse and the displaced and unemployed. IPSL does its best to match your skills and interests to the placement, but please remember that the notion of service is, first and foremost, to respond to the needs of others. You will play a role not only by actively participating with a determined role among the team members, but also by enriching the projects and programs with your knowledge, experience, and hard work.  Therefore, each project or program is improved and enriched with your participation. Your impact on other people's lives will be powerful and sustainable, even if you don't see the results right away.

Service-Learning™ versus Internship/Practicum

IPSL service-learning placements are determined, in part, by student interests and skills (and, in some cases, language abilities), but primarily by community needs. Central to the philosophy of service-learning is the notion of service. Service-learning is not the same as an internship or practicum although it may look very similar. The service in service-learning may or may not be career-related. An internship is designed mostly so that the student will benefit by learning about his/ her future profession. In contrast, in service-learning, the outcome of the student's work - that is, the service – is as important as the student’s learning. There are — or should be — identifiable benefits to those served. Thus, reciprocity is a key component in international service-learning.

IPSL Service Placements

IPSL's service-learning placements are in agencies that have sprung up from the grassroots, where locals have identified a need, and where the change effort is owned by them. What they need is additional assistance of all kinds from the outside. So, IPSL participants should remember that they are stepping into a moving stream of initiatives and efforts that began long ago, and that will continue after the participant departs. Your work is important, but your individual contributions may not be visible for many years. Change takes time. In the meantime, you are fulfilling an important need, and the needs are huge.

A single agency may need hands-on assistance from IPSL participants (direct service) or assistance in the background building capacity (indirect service) so that the agency can one day experience more stability in the delivery of its services. Either way, both direct and indirect service are needed to accomplish the goals. Each is valuable. In actuality, because nearly all non-profits and NGOs experience resource scarcity, IPSL participants do a little bit of everything. And this is as it should be. Nothing says "I'm a partner in your community" more than a willingness on the part of a service-learning participant not only to do higher-level tasks, but also occasionally to pick up a broom and sweep the floor so that the setting is clean and presentable to the client population being served. Such actions serve to break down stereotypes about Americans, and build relationships based on equality. That is why many of the service agencies with which we work have been our partners for years.

The IPSL website lists areas of service, and a few examples for each program site. This list is not exhaustive, nor static. The types of work listed do not each represent a distinct agency; they represent the types of work that IPSL participants can expect to encounter at the different service agencies with which we work. The number and selection of service agencies may change at any time. Sometimes there are logistical (transportation, scheduling, etc.) issues that arise that complicate certain service agency placements and make them unworkable. Sometimes students need to be proficient in the local language in order to serve in a particular agency. Also, we do not place too many students in any one agency. Doing so would undermine the immersion environment for which IPSL programs are known.