You are here: American University Campus Life Community Engagement & Service Spring Alt Break 2022

The Revolution Begins At Home: Engaging Transnational Student Organizing Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa is often considered central to the discussion of social movements. It is so important, the term “South Africa moment” is used frequently when describing cross-solidarity movements. The “South Africa moment” is the metamorphosis and evolution of a social movement from loosely related actions to a coherent and well defined strategy. It is the development of anti-apartheid struggle. In the case of Palestine, as the activism shifts from a human rights framework to an intersectional cross-solidarity framework, many argue on whether or not Palestine is having its “South Africa moment.” In addition to South Africa serving as an inspiration to global social movements, South Africa is also unique in the particular ways race has been constructed and in the ways South Africa continues to respond to apartheid. Whether it be the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee or the fluidity of race, South Africa offers several key lessons, as commented on and studied by American University professor, Irene Calis. By looking at South Africa as a case study, students examine how the lessons from South Africa apply to other contexts, both individual and global.

Students look at efforts to decolonize education in South Africa to consider what parallels can be drawn to their own communities in the US. For example, in our discussions with the University of Cape Town, what resonates with American University? How can we apply similar strategies that certain activist groups like Fees Must Fall did, to our own campus in D.C.? What do we do in the U.S. that differs, and why? While we will focus on the local context of South Africa, we will enter this conversation with a global lens. How do the ideas of Biko differ from Malcom X differ from Fanon? How do they converge? And how can we apply lessons learned from South African activist movements to our own activist movements?

Dates of Engagement: March 6 - March 13, 2022

Estimated Cost: $3,500

*Final cost is subject to change based on the finalized itinerary and program fundraising efforts. 

Headshot of Aqsa Rashid
Aqsa Rashid is a senior studying Sociology with a minor in International Studies. Aqsa is interested in gender-based violence, transnational politics, and social movements. She cares deeply about the power of storytelling, and the way that people use words as a tool of resistance in both personal and political realms. On campus, Aqsa is involved in the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine. She also enjoys writing for various student publications. Off campus, she has interned for the Peaceful Families Organization, has worked intimately with community schools, and currently serves as an organizing fellow with students in the DMV on college campuses. As a previous participant and co-leader of the South Africa AltBreak program, she is eager to move past theoretical conversations into understanding how to embody an everyday praxis.

Headshot of Kiran Waqar
Kiran Waqar is a senior studying Sociology with a minor Transcultural Studies. Kiran has a passion for literature and the ways language has been used both to oppress and liberate. On-campus, Kiran is involved with Muslim Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, and Intergroup Dialogue. Off-campus, she has served in several roles including as a youth poetry educator, an organizing fellow, and as an intern for organizations such as HEART To Grow, Burlington School District, and the Vermont Attorney General’s Civil Rights Unit. As a previous participant and leader of the South Africa AltBreak program, Kiran is excited to dive deeper into these conversations.

Day 1: Transit 

Day 2: Settle into housing in Cape Town and set group intentions. Participants will also receive a VAC orientation and go on an Observatory walking tour.

Day 3: Visit Mandesi & Community Theater to learn about their work at the intersection of the arts and activism. Participants will also meet and engage with Fees Must Fall activists.

Day 4: Hike Table Mountain via the Pipe Track and visit Robben Island.

Day 5: Visit Bo-Kaap and the associated museum. Meet with student organizers to discuss religion, activism, and race. Conclude the day by visiting the Green Market Square.

Day 6: Converse with scholars at the University of Cape Town about femicide and how to address and advocate against it. Hike Lion's Head.

Day 7: Transit


WED, Oct. 13 @ 12PM

WED, Oct. 20 @ 11AM