East Africa Semester
Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zanzibar
Community. Service. Connection
It was the best three months of my life. I have never learned so much about myself or the world in such a short time. I felt that I overcame some challenges and I see the world from a wider lens now. I am forever grateful for Carpe Diem.
I have learned more in these past three months than I have in all my years of schooling…The East Africa trip is like a good story that keeps getting better until the last minute.
Discover inspiration with Carpe Diem Education’s East Africa Semester – designed for those ready to explore the world through cross-cultural exchange, outdoor adventure, and hands-on community service.
Whether hiking the rolling hills of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands or paddling a dugout canoe with a Bakiga guide through Uganda’s deepest lake, this three-month journey is sure to shake up your normal routine.
Your travels begin with an in-country orientation where you’ll learn more about the program, your group, and the adventures to come. By discovering deeper truths about yourself and the international context in which you live, you’ll form a new, life-enriching perspective of your world and the planet.
Throughout the semester, you’ll experience the rich cultural traditions of indigenous peoples, have close encounters with awe-inspiring wildlife on a multi-day safari, and investigate both the history of genocide and the future of hope in Rwanda.
Use your newly-acquired Swahili to chat with welcoming host families in Tanzania, track endangered rhinos as part of a conservation team in Uganda, and build meaningful relationships with your group members and partner organizations.
If you’re drawn to community service or international development, this is the ideal Carpe Diem Education program for you. You’ll get to work alongside diverse organizations that assist local communities with education, children’s homes, building projects, women’s empowerment, HIV/AIDS support, sustainability, and environmental conservation—what we call “experiential learning,” our philosophy of combined action with reflection.
You’ll conclude your journey on the legendary Spice Island of Zanzibar, wandering through the labyrinth streets of ancient Stonetown—and earn your open-water SCUBA certificate in the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean.
With your well-practiced independent travel skills and fresh ideas about yourself and the world around you, you’ll return home energized and ready for the next leg of your amazing life journey.
- Your introduction to East Africa begins with three days in a backpacker’s hostel setting the stage for the semester ahead. You’ll spend time getting to know your fellow group members, exploring your intentions for the program, and learning to stay healthy and safe throughout your travels. As you’re learning about the finer details of the program, you’ll also begin your first adventures into East African markets, cuisines, and the local sights!
- “Hakuna Matata” – it really does mean “No worries!” in Kiswahili, the official language of Tanzania. This beautiful language emerged on the island of Zanzibar as a way for Bantu and Arabic speaking merchants to communicate as they traded their spices, gold, and other wares. Swahili has become a symbol of unity and peace for the Tanzanian people because it offers one common language for the hundreds of tribes that co-inhabit this land.
We will spend time studying Kiswahili with excellent teachers in small group settings. After morning class, you’ll get to practice your new language skills as you navigate markets, order food, and interact with home-stay families.
- While visiting a rhino conservation and re-introduction program in central Uganda, you will track rhinos with experienced rangers, monitor rhino behavior, discover the diverse flora and fauna of the park, help with vital maintenance, and assist with local education classes. Rhinos play a critical role in ecology but in Uganda, these majestic creatures were poached to extinction in the 1980s. Fortunately Rhino Fund Uganda is working hard to breed and protect rhinos which will eventually be reintroduced to National Parks. Rhino Fund Uganda also has a strong environmental education program and works with local communities to create greater awareness and promote a conservation ethic.
COMMUNITY BASED VOLUNTEERING
Southern Highlands of Tanzania
Journey to the highlands of Mufindi district to spend a week getting involved with an organization that works in a remote area of this mountainous region. The organization is devoted to providing shelter, sustenance, education, and medical care for vulnerable children and people living with HIV-AIDS within the project area. They aim to curtail the spread of HIV-AIDS, teach life skills, and to create hope and opportunities for future generations. You’ll learn about multiple facets of their program, from home-based health care visits to their Montessori pre-school, their small farm-to-table projects and the local sewing and handicrafts school. You will also be invited to spend time living with a local family, deepening your immersion into rural Tanzanian lifestyle and culture.
Lake Bunyoni Region of Uganda
Arrive into the lush Southwestern region of the diverse country of Uganda. Volunteer on the shores of the spectacular Lake Bunyonyi with an organization whose mission is to “to promote Africa, creativity, cultures and practical life skills.” While this organization runs many projects from schools to income-generating projects, you will spend the majority of your time working with special-needs children at one of the few schools specifically for special-needs in all of Uganda. The children will love having you there and you may find yourself helping with craft projects, organizing sports and games, or painting a mural to brighten the school.
Rolling Hills of Rwanda
Watch the stunning hills of Rwanda roll by as you head to the countryside to work with a community-based project. After the tragic genocide of 1994, Rwandans have come a long way and worked hard to create peace, stability, and prosperity for their once-devastated population. Work with a local community organizer on diverse projects from classes for vulnerable and orphaned children to permaculture and water harvesting. In your down time, there are plenty of local kids eager to play soccer or tag and you can spend time getting to know the families welcoming you to their country.
STUDENT DIRECTED TRAVEL
- This is a time for the group to choose your own adventure! Take over the direction, processes, and budgeting of the group’s travels and activities utilizing the skills you’ve gained in the previous weeks. Choose from a plethora of ideal travel destinations in Tanzania, from towering waterfalls to rugged hiking destinations, white sand beaches of the Indian Ocean, or many others. The only restriction is to make your way to Zanzibar by a prescribed date and get ready to cap off the semester with a week of exhilarating SCUBA diving.
CULTURAL IMMERSION – Rwanda
- Take some time to soak in this vibrant and emerging East African country. Have plenty of time to practice French (if you have that ability) in the first and only francophone country of this program, while sipping on some of the world’s best coffee. Kigali is the major political, economic and cultural centre of Rwanda. Regrettably it is also where most incidents of genocide took place during 1994. The group will have the opportunity to take in several memorials, museums, and centers dedicated to the Rwandan Genocide, including the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center.
Stay in Historic Stone town, yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, which is the largest city on this famous spice island. Over the course of the week, you will enjoy some well-earned rest in this historic island town while simultaneously working toward your PADI Open Water SCUBA certification. (Higher levels of certification are available for those with previous dive certification.) When not diving, you’ll have time for lazing on the beach, getting lost amongst the weaving alleyways and markets, shopping for last-minute souvenirs, taking in a spice tour, or feasting on the variety of local seafood. Celebrate the end of your semester together in the unparalleled indigo bathwaters of the Indian Ocean!
Canoeing and Trekking
Based in Southwest Uganda, we’ll trek with an ecotourism company that believes in “cultural and educational tourism with humor and provocative ideas”. We’ll spend time canoeing the deep waters of beautiful Lake Bunyonyi
in traditional dugout canoes. But don’t be fooled by the canoes – there will also be plenty of time trekking through the hills of the surrounding land, so be prepared for some long days of walking through stunning scenery! You’ll camp overnight with locals who will invite you onto their land and perhaps share a few traditional legends and ghost stories. You’ll also feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with summiting the tallest mountain in the area – on a clear day you can see three different countries from here! Enjoy this unique experience under the open skies with your group and some incredible local guides.
STUDIES IN SUSTAINABILITY AND REFLECTION RETREAT
- Spend time in the Southern hills of Tanzania with Ohana Amani, an organization that was created to “build peace between those who breathe together.” Two sisters from California founded Ohana Amani through their belief that it is imperative in these times to gather together, share together, and build bridges of connection between cultures, lands, languages and people. While here you will take time to intentionally reflect on the trip, on your personal growths and goals, and on ways in which you can integrate the learning of the trip into your lives “back home.” You’ll also learn about holistic living through their permaculture farm, sustainable building, and farm-to-table kitchen! Relax in the beautiful setting of their retreat center, try out some yoga and meditation techniques, reflect in your journal, and work in the garden or kitchen to prepare delicious local food with a distinctive Californian flare!
Accepting Applications For:
SPRING 2017 February 15 – May 10*
FALL 2017 September 13 – December 6*
SPRING 2018 February 14 – May 9*
*Dates may fluctuate depending on flight times and availability.
Not sure what to do after your semester? Check out our Latitudes program to do a focused volunteer placement for your second semester! CLICK HERE
A maximum of 10 Students & 2 Overseas Educators
Ages 17 and Up
COLLEGE CREDIT & FINANCIAL AID
Earn up to 18 credits through our partnership with Portland State University.
Learn more on our College Credit page.
Carpe Diem students can access Financial Aid.
Learn more on our Financial Aid page.
Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. International airfare and spending money are extra. International airfare estimated at $1700-$1900; internal East African flights estimated at $400-$600; visa fees at $230.