South Africa Testimonials

Kristen Garcia

Environmental Science Class of 2015

"The South Africa study abroad was the best experience I had as a UCF student! I will always remember the amazing memories and people! I am so thankful to have gotten the chance to see South Africa’s beautiful landscape at Golden Gate National park, play with the children at Intabazwe, and work up close with the cheetahs at Kwa Cheetah. I learned so much about sustainability and conservation and expanded my worldview. It is very humbling to see another country and meet people who have a completely different way of living. My favorite part of the trip was spending time with the cheetahs and observing the plentiful wildlife at Nambiti. We got so close to elephants, giraffe, zebra, lions, and many other animals! It’s not everyday that you have a mongoose on your shoulder, have a cheetah suck your thumb, and then have an elephant touch your game viewer with his trunk! This trip is learning at its best!"

 

 

Kaidi Fenrich

Biology Class of 2017

"Traveling to South Africa was one of the most significant experiences of my life thus far. My time there taught me invaluable lessons about the world we live in and the importance of trying to make a change. The people of Intabazwe are very caring, and the children are so adorable and fun! I am immeasurably grateful to have been able to spend time in such a welcoming community and to try and do some good with the people there. We also had the unique opportunity to work with cheetahs! We spent a lot of time with the cats and it was not long before we could tell who was who just by looking at them. This portion of the trip certainly reaffirmed my passion for the welfare of the natural world and all those living in it, as well as my wish to work with animals in some form or another. As a result of this trip, I have become even more motivated to pursue my dreams and make even a small difference in the world. South Africa will always have a place in my heart."

Gianna Cifredo

Philosophy Class of 2014

"This experience opened my eyes to the inequity in the world, but more importantly I was introduced to amazing people who are trying to make a difference in the world. Hearing how Reverend Mbhele began to take care of orphaned children in the Intabazwe community, seeing how the Nkosinathi Community Center has grown through his efforts and the efforts of UCF students in the past, and contributing my own efforts to his projects was an amazing experience and made me realize how one person can truly make a significant difference in the world. It has reminded me that no matter how small our actions may seem, it is important to build relationships and make sure that we listen to each other in order to come up with solutions that work."

 

Charlene Kormondy

Environmental Studies Class of 2014

"On this study abroad trip, I fell in love with South Africa, its people, and its animals. The orphans of Intabazwe are an incredible bunch and I wanted to adopt them all! The Reverend who cares for them is the most compassionate, selfless person I know and it was an honor to work with him towards his goal of watching after these children to the best of his abilities. I and the other UCF students also had the once in a lifetime opportunity to work with cheetahs so closely that we got to know each cat’s quirks and unique personality. I have always been interested in movements to conserve endangered species, but after having worked closely with these cats, I am so much more invested in those efforts! I will always remember the friendships that I formed and the people and animals that touched my heart."

 

Trevi Sellers

Finance Class of 2016

"This trip to South Africa really opened my eyes to some of the social and economic problems facing developing countries. It is startling to see the living conditions of the people within the Intabazwe community and seeing these economic difficulties inspired me to get more involved in solving these issues in my future work. I really enjoyed working with Reverend Mbhele and talking to him about what his goals are for the orphanage going forward. The whole experience was life-changing, and it was an amazing opportunity to grow and see the world in a different way." 

 

Jais Emmanuel

Biomedical Sciences Class of 2015

"I am extremely grateful to the Honors College for this amazing opportunity. I led a project to bring medical supplies donated by Project C.U.R.E. to a community center in Intabazwe and a local nursing school. Working with Nurse Nandobecko opened my eyes to the hardships the township faced in accessing quality health care. The community lived in impoverished conditions, and it was hard to take it all in at first. Yet the people I met were so genuine and always beaming with joy. The difficulties, which I thought seemed unbearable, did not fade their perseverance and faith. I went to South Africa with a hope of making a difference, but I feel that South Africa has made a difference in me. This trip has definitely been the highlight of my years at UCF, and I will always cherish this memorable experience. "

 

 

Eric Lee

Mechanical Engineer Class of 2012

"South Africa was incredible. We spent over three weeks there working on engineering projects, helping teachers learn to use the internet, and going on trips around the region. My engineering senior design team built a wind turbine for a community center in the impoverished township of Pomolong. We worked with the locals to make everything come together and got to see how excited they were to turn the power on for the first time. It really was a service learning project; although we gave them electricity for the first time in that part of town, I learned so much more from them. South Africa is rich in history and culture, and it was great to experience as much as we could of it in those few weeks.

We took trips to the coastal city of Durban, the mountain country of Lesotho, and the Nambiti game reserve. We watched a rugby game, rode horses to ancient cave paintings, and saw tons of animals on a safari. While we volunteered at the reserve we played with adult and baby cheetahs and other big cats. I can't fully describe what it feels like to be chased (playfully) by the adults or have four little cheetahs crawling all over you. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, and a surreal experience. South Africa is a beautiful country full of friendly and inviting people. We worked hard, but we also had so many fun adventures. It was really special, and I would go back again in a heartbeat."