changing, our world, ourselves

service internships


The u2ufoundation offers foreign students the opportunity to experience Service Internships in South Africa. We understand a ‘service internship’ to be a mixture of academic and community work in which students complete both accredited classes and complete an internship within a community-based organisation.

Based in the ‘mother-city’ of Cape Town, students experience first-hand the
transformation for which South Africa has become internationally renowned. More importantly, students are able to participate in the ongoing processes of change and community development and in the process, find time for self-reflection, increased self awareness and growth in self-confidence.

Nelson Mandela once said, “To be an effective agent for peace, you have to seek not only to change the community and the world… but seek to change yourself.”

The u2ufoundation programmes afford students a rare opportunity to change the world and themselves.

The u2ufoundation has worked successfully in collaboration with a number of international and local universities and colleges, including:

  • The University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, NC
  • Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
  • Hawaii Pacific University, Honolulu, HI
  • Virginia Theological Seminary, Washington DC
  • University of Cape Town, SA
  • University of the Western Cape, SA
  • Msalato Theological College, Dodoma, Tanzania

The u2ufoundation has successfully coordinated programmes for these institutions for over many years. With UNC, for example, we coordinate and facilitate the UNC Honours Semester in Cape Town. UNC has been sending students to Cape Town every Fall-semester since 2001 and the programme is well established and respected.

The Marquette University Service Learning Programme has been operating in Cape Town for over 8 years.

Scope of Work

The u2ufoundation provides the following services:

  • Selection of students. As may be required, we assist the partner-institution or university with the student selection process, after which we will keep in regular contact with the students prior to their arrival in Cape Town. This involvement ensures that students are fully aware of the nature of their Service Internship and are well suited to the settings in which they are ultimately placed
  • Orientation. On arrival, the students are provided with all the necessary practical information including safety issues and information about living in Cape Town. Students engage in an in-depth orientation program, including excursions in and around the city, Table Mountain, the Winelands, informal settlements or townships and a visit to Robben Island. Students are helped become familiar with practical issues such as travelling around the city, entertainment, shopping, medical issues etc. Safety issues are of great importance and these were well covered in orientation program
  • Service Internship placements. The u2u Internship Coordinator identifies appropriate settings and negotiates the Service Internship programme with the setting. Students usually spend 3 days in the Internship setting. We use settings which provide students with a uniquely South African experience. Students gain direct experience in the issues affecting the lives of South Africans. This service opportunity is also a profound learning opportunity as students usually meet and work alongside people from a vastly different background and culture to that of their own. The Internship Coordinator regularly visits the placements settings and ensures the students are supervised on site. Regular contact is maintained throughout the Service Internship to assist with any problems which might arise. A thorough evaluation is carried out on completion of the placement
  • Academic Classes. Classes in Contemporary South African Issues are taught by the u2ufoundation Director. Students also meet with guest lecturers many of whom are or have been involved in the socio-political transformation of South Africa. The U2U staff have extensive connections in the political, social development, ecological and theological fields. Partner-universities may like to have a faculty member from their university teach a specialised class to the group during the program. Such classes may ensure that the university’s academic requirements are met. In the past, visiting professors have taught classes in international politics, African literature, business entrepreneurship and so on
  • Reflection Class. This is felt to be crucial part of the program, affording students to consciously process their experiences while on the program. Using a non-threatening and non-judgemental ‘action-learning’ model, the U2U team facilitate a series of reflective exercises with the students. Students are encouraged to journal and be creative in processing their experiences of South African society. Students speak warmly of these reflection periods and appreciate the awareness and value-add they bring to the visit to South Africa
  • Mid-term break. In consultation with the partner-university, we arrange an exciting mid-term break for the groups. Students see and experience some of South Africa’s most fascinating attractions including safari-type visits, game viewing, hiking trails, visits to museums and sites of interest. The Extra-mural Coordinator plans these trips in association with the partner-university and in line with budget considerations
  • Accommodation and transport. Accommodation and local transport are usually provided by the partner-university and included in the costs of the program. It is suggested that students are accommodated in the geographical areas most frequented by other university students to encourage the forging of friendships with South African students. Reliable transport to and from placements is essential and the Foundation can assist the partner-university to arrange this requirement.


The duration and timing of the program is flexible. Some universities place their students in Cape Town for periods of between 4 to 5 months (a full semester) while shorter periods can be accommodated. Short visits (a week or even a weekend) can also be arranged.


In our experience the following are important:

  • If possible, a University faculty member should accompany the students. He /she can offer a course in their personal academic field
  • The ideal number of students in a group is 12 to 15. For a semester-type program the number shouldn’t exceed 20. For a short visit, the Foundation can handle any number of visitors
  • While every effort will be made to support and guide the students, the Foundation negotiates a code of ethics with the partner-university and cases of misconduct can result in students not completing the program.


The u2ufoundation has enjoyed many excellent relationships with partner-universities and references can be obtained from:

  • Professor Michael Lambert – Director, African Studies Center, Associate Professor of African Studies and Anthropology for African Studies University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ) (mlambert@email.unc.edu)
  • Ms Friederike Seeger – Director of Burch Programs and Honors Study Abroad) (fseeger@email.unc.edu)


Costs vary according to the program requirements, accommodation and the excursion planned. We can guide partner-universities is costing the program budget items. Usually, the university involved pays suppliers directly for all the students’ accommodation, transport, excursions and any requested activity. If required we can pay these costs on behalf of the university and invoice the partner institution accordingly. A full budget and timetable is agreed to at the onset of each program. Our facilitation fee is negotiable.

Comments from previous interns:

“When you have such a relatively short time in a country, you want to be able to make the most of every day. The Honors Cape Town program involved doing just that—we got to experience many facets of South Africa, from the social and political history to everyday work life. It was through a combination of videos, reading, informal lectures, site visits, and various internships that each of us set out to absorb Cape Town like a sponge. We all had specific learning habits, but it was through opening up to different ways of learning that everyone received a well-rounded, meaningful experience. We regularly had the chance to reflect on our own personal growth throughout our stay, and I know that personally I have seen change in both the way I look at the world and how I look at myself.” Miriam Tardif-Douglin, Class of 2011

Examples of Lecture Titles

  • Origins of Africa & her peoples: “Three things you need to know about Africa”
  • Southern Africa 1850 to 1950 – Melting Pot or Perfect Storm?
  • The Advent of Apartheid – a legal and moral system of social engineering called apartheid
  • Rising Resistance & taking prisoners – research on and visit to Robben Island
  • Cracks in the edifice – An idea called Freedom – rolling mass action
  • Negotiating the future – Talking our way out of a bloodbath
  • No freedom without Forgiveness – The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Reconciliation – From wounded to whole – in the life of The Revd Michael Lapsley
  • A Brave Free World – The new SA– its uniqueness; and an exploration of two constitutions (US and SA constitutions)
  • The New World Loses Its Shine: Unemployment; Aids; Xenophobia

Legal and Contact information

The u2ufoundation is a registered, legal entity set up and managed in accordance with South African laws for non-profit organisations.

The Foundation’s offices:
12 Ludlow Road
Vredehoek, 8001
Cape Town
South Africa

Contact persons:
The u2ufoundation Director – Chris Ahrends
Email: chris@u2ufoundation.org
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 902 4194
The u2ufoundation Internship Coordinator – Julie De Nicola
Email: jdenicola@discoverymail.co.za
Mobile: +27 (0) 83 564 2350

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