Journeys to South Africa

Reflections on 20 Years of Short-term International Service-Learning

by Victoria M. Tischio (Volume editor) Camryn Carwll (Volume editor) CJ Deskie (Volume editor) Dunya Markovic (Volume editor)
©2023 Textbook XXIV, 328 Pages


International service-learning programs are growing on college and university campuses; yet little is known about how students learn from these experiences and even less is known about how hosting communities benefit from these endeavors, particularly when the projects are short-term. Journeys to South Africa: Reflections on 20 Years of Short-term Service-Learning helps fill these gaps in the knowledge about international service-learning by offering description and analysis of qualitative data gathered during 20 years of service-learning in South Africa. This book is a unique collection of college student- and faculty-authored chapters. The data includes interviews conducted with host communities, surveys of students who have participated in the ISL program, interviews with some students who participated in the program in the early 2000s, and students’ travel journal entries, all of which are used to exemplify the successes and challenges of this 20-year ISL program. Journeys to South Africa provides significant insight into the two most important concerns of any service-learning program: how do students learn and communities benefit from these projects. The writing style is engaging, providing a unique combination of first-hand narratives, qualitative evidence and scholarly context. Faculty, administrators, and students who are interested in international service-learning will find enlightening the insights on the best practices and benefits of short-term international service-learning offered by Journeys to South Africa.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • “Hello” in all 11 official languages of South Africa
  • Introduction: Seeking Pragmatic Hope in the Contact Zone of Short-Term International Service-Learning
  • Inter-chapter: Tourist vs. Traveler–Pre-Departure Journal Entries
  • Section One Our Journeys to South Africa
  • “Friend” in all 11 official languages of South Africa
  • Chapter One: An Unexpected Partnership: West Chester University & South Africa
  • Inter-chapter One:
  • Chapter Two: International Education at West Chester University: Global Learning and the Honors College Program in South Africa
  • Inter-chapter Two:
  • Chapter Three: Passions in Action: South African Tourism and the Mission to Heal a Nation
  • Inter-chapter Three:
  • Section Two Action and Activism in and for South Africa
  • “Community” in all 11 official languages of South Africa
  • Chapter Four: The Messiness of Progress: Lessons From 20 Years of International Service-Learning Trips to South Africa
  • Inter-chapter Four:
  • Chapter Five: Mary Ingouville Burton: A Life-Sized Person on a Giant Mission
  • Inter-chapter Five:
  • Chapter Six: Resilience in the Face of Adversity: Learning About the Consequences of Racism From the District Six Museum
  • Inter-chapter Six:
  • Chapter Seven: Queen and the Life of Soweto: Where Children March and Die for Freedom
  • Inter-chapter Seven:
  • Section Three Reflections on Serving and Learning in South Africa
  • “Thank you” in all 11 official languages of South Africa
  • Chapter Eight: Research in the Community as Service-Learning
  • Inter-chapter Eight:
  • Chapter Nine: A Warrior at Heart: Gail Johnson’s Mission at Nkosi’s Haven
  • Inter-chapter Nine:
  • Chapter Ten: Serving and Learning at the H.E.L.P. Ministries Soup Kitchen
  • Inter-chapter Ten:
  • Appendices
  • Appendix A: Student-Written Service-Learning Project to Support the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Appendix B: Syllabus from the Pre-Departure Course 2019 (HON320) WCU Honors International Study Program (HON 320)—Global Issues: South Africa (I) Spring 2019
  • Appendix C: Timeline of Community Research Service-Learning Projects
  • Appendix D: Sample Travel Itinerary, May 2019
  • Editor Biographies
  • Contributor Biographies
  • Index

List of Tables

Table 8.1:Impact on Commitment to Service by Kevin Dean

Table 8.2:Impact on Global Awareness by Kevin Dean


This book is the culmination of a 20-year relationship between the West Chester University Honors College and several South African nonprofit organizations and communities we work with every time we visit. The book’s purpose is to highlight the growth of these organizations and communities alongside the learning of the students. In many ways, the WCU international service-learning (ISL) program and its students and faculty, and the South African individuals and organizations with which we interact are engaged in a reciprocal project of mutual healing. For South Africa, our sustained engagement benefits communities through our service work, fundraising, and through the opportunity to share the stories of this country back in the United States. For the students and faculty, the benefits include: developing an increased sense of what it means to be engaged global citizens, which includes being committed to examining one’s own complicity in and duty to challenge inequities at home and abroad. In many respects, we have been on a journey toward racial and economic healing with our South African partners, as our own country undergoes another phase in the project of racial and economic justice. We want to thank the South African communities we work with for their willingness to teach us as we serve them. None of this would have been possible without the generosity of time and spirit of our South African community partners, in particular Mary Burton, Gail Johnson, Rev. Cecil Begbie, Peter Storey, Alan Storey, Noor Ebrahim, Joseph Schaffers, Queen Malefane, Deon Kitching, and Anwill Valentine.

In keeping with the values of our ISL program, we wrote this book collaboratively, learning from each other in the process. It was written by the students in HON452 (2018), HON451 (2020). All of the students from those classes are listed as part of the editorial staff (below). Some of those students also contributed chapters to this volume. We also want to thank the students who offered their journal entries to this collection.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Jen Bacon and Associate Dean Hyoejin Yoon of the West Chester University College of Arts and Humanities for their generous support of this project through the Research and Creative Activities grant program. We would also like to acknowledge the West Chester University Provost, Dr. Laurie Bernotsky, and the Director of the Honors College, Dr. Kevin Dean for their generous support of this project.

Finally, we also want to thank our parents and our teachers, who taught us the most important lessons—kindness, perseverance, focus, organization, resilience, curiosity and openness. Without their guidance and teaching this book would never have been written.

The royalties from this book will go directly to the student-run fundraiser called “Aid to South Africa,” which was founded in 2007 by three students who traveled on the WCU Honors College’s ISL program in South Africa. We are inspired by their leadership. The funds raised by the organization they founded are donated to the communities we partner with in South Africa (including Nkosi’s Haven, H.E.L.P. Ministries Soup Kitchen, the District Six Museum, among others) and assists them in continuing their good work.

Lead Editor

Victoria Tischio, Ph.D.


Camryn Carwll

CJ Deskie

Dunya Markovic

Copy Editor and Research Assistant

Kathleen B. Fricke

Faculty Contributors

Kevin W. Dean, Ph.D.

Peter Loedel, Ph.D.

Victoria Tischio, Ph.D.

Print Editorial Staff (and contributing authors indicated by asterisk)

Allison Davis*

Miciah Brice-Frazier

Natalia Brown

Alex Dwyer

Nicole Fiorentino*

Danielle Gendler

Teresa Lee

Michaela Gormish*

Jose Hernandez*

Rebecca Kelly*

Savannah Lear*

Brendon Lordan*

Olivia Mancarella*

Ronan McDermott*

Michael Nangle*

Nicole Salapong*

Joelle Skacel

Annika Soderberg*

Ruby Wright

Digital Editorial Staff (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Blog)

Connor Beard

Abigail Boquist

Lauren Durante

Nicole Fiorentino

Michaela Gormish

Nolan Hibsman

Olivia Mancarella

Alena Marcinkoski

Emily Miller

Zoe Nowell

Sarah Richie

Andrew Rubas

Kyle Shaffer

Bonna Sheehan

Frederick Shegog* (Digital Intern)

Annika Soderberg

Mackenzie Taylor

List of Abbreviations

A2SAAid to South Africa student-led fundraiser
CPPcritical pedagogy of place
CRSLcommunity research service-learning
GAAGroup Areas Act
HONWest Chester University Honors College course abbreviation prefix
ISL international service-learning
J2SAJourneys to South Africa: Reflecting on Twenty Years of Short-term International Service-Learning
JLZCJ.L. Zwane Memorial Church
MYCMbekweni Youth Center
WCUWest Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA
WWIIWorld War Two

“Hello” in all 11 official languages of South Africa




Mola (s)/Molaweni (pl)




Dumêlang Thôbêla Helele Hai

Northern Sotho

Dumela (s)/Dumelang (pl)




Xewani Avuxeni


Wemukelekile (s)/Numukelelkile(pl)


Nada (m)/Aa (f)




Hello1 1 South Africa has 11 official languages. They are all listed here in order of their prevalence in the country, with the exception of English, which is the fourth most prevalent language spoken in South Africa.

Introduction: Seeking Pragmatic Hope in the Contact Zone of Short-Term International Service-Learning

Victoria Tischio1

False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the “rejects of life,” to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands–whether individuals or entire peoples–need to be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.

—Paulo Friere (1970), Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p. 45.

I vividly recall my own undergraduate study abroad experience in the 1980s, when I spent a summer in Italy. Having grown up Italian-American (third generation), the culture and customs in Italy were somewhat familiar to me. I had studied plenty of Italian art, learned some Italian history, and eaten Italian food all my life. I had some rudimentary knowledge of the language; I knew a few Italian curse words and greetings, plenty of Italian food words, and I even had an Italian name. Despite this familiarity, traveling abroad was a disorienting experience. Everyone and everything was new, which was both exhilarating and anxiety producing. Purchasing mundane objects that I forgot to pack (like toiletries or over-the-counter medicines) was sometimes confusing because product names were unfamiliar and difficult to translate. (My question: Questo prodotto è uguale a Pamperin? Reply from store clerk: [Quizzical look] Ciò che è Pamperin?) Learning from the stern glare of the waiter that you do not order cappuccino in the afternoon was embarrassing. Lack of fluency in the language was frustrating. In other words, traveling abroad, even to a semi-familiar culture, pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a contact zone (a term coined by Mary Louise Pratt that I will discuss more extensively later in this introduction). Learning through experiencing another culture was both intellectual and emotional for me; it was also both collective and dialogic. I was learning and experiencing alongside other students within a community. We shared the embarrassment and the fun. We also made friends in the community, who helped us learn the ins and outs of life in Urbino, Italy.


XXIV, 328
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2023 (December)
Reflections on 20 Years of Short-term International Service-Learning. Victoria M. Tischio Camryn Carwll CJ Deskie Dunya Markovic Journeys to South Africa International Service-Learning Short-term Service-Learning Study Abroad Community Service South Africa Colleges and Universities leadership development in college students Honors Programs Honors Curriculum global citizenship student-led fundraisers
New York, Berlin, Bruxelles, Chennai, Lausanne, Oxford, 2023. XXIV, 328 pp., 17 b/w ill., 2 tables.

Biographical notes

Victoria M. Tischio (Volume editor) Camryn Carwll (Volume editor) CJ Deskie (Volume editor) Dunya Markovic (Volume editor)

Victoria M. Tischio holds a Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric from the the University at Albany, SUNY (1998). She holds a B.S. in Studio Art (painting and silversmithing) and an M.A. in English (British Romanticism) from Southern Connecticut State University. She has published in the areas of critical pedagogy, feminism, and service-learning. She teaches introductory, advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in composition and rhetoric, and undergraduate courses in film, and for the Honors College she teaches courses on publishing and service-learning. She has served in numerous leadership roles at West Chester University, including Associate Dean for the College of Humanities and Sciences, English Department Chair, Learning Communities Coordinator, and Writing Center Director. Camryn Carwll (Cam) has a B.A. in English Literature and Communication Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, with concentrations in African and African American Literature and publishing. She traveled to South Africa in 2019 with the WCU Honors College. Since graduating in spring 2020, Cam works as a social media account manager and a freelance writer. She can be found caring for her "plant babies" and catching up on Black feminist writing. CJ Deskie is a graduating senior, majoring in Psychology at West Chester University. He participated in the 2019 Honors College service-learning program in South Africa. After working as an author and co-editor of this book, he discovered a love for writing, which he is pursuing through a minor in journalism and creative writing classes. He hopes to utilize his knowledge of writing and psychology to inspire and help others. CJ currently works as a campus tour guide and a peer educator for the campus Wellness Promotion Center. He aspires to work as a therapist or as a writer after graduation. Dunya Markovic is a graduating senior with a major in Studio Arts and minors in Art History, Civic and Professional Leadership, and Psychology at West Chester University. She traveled to South Africa in 2019 and her experience there led her to working as a research assistant and co-editor of this book and to serving as the Games and Activities Director for Aid to South Africa. Dunya works as a Leadership Consultant on WCU's campus, where she creates and runs leadership seminars and assists student-run organizations. She hopes to pursue a career as an art historian after graduation.


Title: Journeys to South Africa