Students on enrichment or research semesters
We have broad experience in facilitating programmes for visiting student groups and their professors who require structured, planned activities over a given period in Cape Town (usually over about eight to 10 days).
Through close liaison with the programme managers in the colleges in the USA, Canada or UK, we draw up an itinerary relevant to the specific needs or fields of study of the arriving group. This itinerary would typically include talks and lectures from local experts as part of the daily visits. In many cases these experts in their fields would also lead the group through that particular activity. Because we have been in the educational field for so long, we have an extensive range of contacts, enabling us to secure the services of experts in a very broad spectrum of disciplines. (We are careful in the planning of these programmes to build in time for leisure and for visits to the conventional tourist highlights for which Cape Town has become famous).
Our service begins with a meet and greet on arrival at Cape Town International Airport. We assist with luggage management to the coach, distribute copies of the itinerary (together with important contact numbers) to each individual in the group, and we accompany the group on the transfer to their accommodation in the city.
We take care of all transport logistics, using our own vehicles and drivers or those of trusted local operators. Every excursion is escorted by an experienced and knowledgeable guide working for Big Blue Sky Tours. In most cases we travel together in one coach (32 or 44-seater), but we also provide smaller vehicles for those occasions when the group needs to split into smaller numbers. All vehicles carry the full range of licences and carrier permits as required by the South African Transportation Authority. Safety is our top priority.
Students and faculty members are accommodated as a group in inexpensive but comfortable backpacker-type establishments in the city. These are secure and service-orientated places offering substantial and wholesome breakfasts and other meals as requested by the group leaders. Included will be a large swimming pool, pool deck and games room for relaxation.
Excursions into the field
Each morning during breakfast the group is given an overview of the day’s events, its purpose and focus. This talk is usually a question-and-answer session to orientate the students prior to departure. The vehicles pick up and drop off at the residence. The day out includes a lunch stop, or perhaps a packed or picnic lunch if appropriate. Participants are briefed in advance as to appropriate clothing for the day.
We have discovered that most students on these programmes welcome the opportunity to get involved on a practical level with the communities they are researching. We make this happen through close interaction with community leaders in the South African townships. Students are frequently needed to assist with building, painting, gardening or cleaning. We also arrange for volunteering in clinics, law advice offices, schools and crèches. We can arrange for the distribution to local institutions of donated goods and materials which often follow as a consequence of the relationships which are built during these activities.
Sometimes students arrive home and in the preparation of their dissertations and presentations discover that they require further material from South Africa. We have an open invitation to everyone to contact us at any time after the tour. Wherever possible we forward addresses, references, phone numbers, etc, and just generally try to be of lasting assistance in this way.
Advantages of Cape Town and South Africa
South Africa is without doubt an emerging economy and very much a part of the “Third World” in terms of its developmental agenda. At the same time, we have a very sophisticated infrastructure in transport, airports, banking and information, on par with or better than many of the developed nations of the world. This dual reality makes Cape Town and the rest of South Africa a uniquely useful destination for students of socioeconomics, politics, developmental programmes and ecological studies.
Cape Town has four internationally acclaimed tertiary institutions: The University of Cape Town, The University of Stellenbosch, The University of the Western Cape, and The Cape Town University of Technology. These, together with a multitude of top-achieving high schools, ensure an ongoing academic dialogue in the city, to which visiting students can contribute.
We take great pleasure in facilitating these student visits as we really enjoy interacting with students and staff of overseas colleges. We believe in the global village, but we also celebrate difference and diversity, and the mutual benefits to countries and individuals from the interactions we try to enable.