This summer, I am very excited to have the opportunity to study abroad in South Africa!  The program I am working with is a Community Development and Social Justice program run on the University of Cape Town campus.  On the program, I will first take a class focused on poverty and development, using Cape Town as a case study.  We will talk about socio-economic issues impacting the communities there.  Then, for the second half of the program, we will participate in service-learning and community engagement.  We will gain an understanding of South African tradition and beliefs, and use our knowledge of these beliefs to work hands on with a community-based organization.

I am really looking forward to the opportunity to study abroad globally.  The courses I am taking do not directly relate to my Mechanical Engineering degree, but they do relate to a lot of the community service work that I do on campus.  I have been involved in the Volunteer Center, and I have gone abroad twice with them (once to Thailand and once to India).  Both of these trips focused on issues, such as poverty and youth education, and helped inspire in me a passion for these issues and for finding solutions to these issues.  I think that I will be able to use my problem-solving skills that I have developed as an engineer to help the NGOs I work with in South Africa come up with working solutions to issues they face.

After the program ends, my dad will also be joining me and we will be going on a safari through Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa.  After the safari, I’ll be coming home and getting ready to move in at my new house in LA!

It’s very hard to believe that this semester is already ending.  It has been the most challenging year I have had so far academically, and I have really had to learn to balance my time.  I’ve learned a lot this year, not only inside the classroom, but also outside of it, and I think that I have grown a lot.  I cannot wait to see what kind of passions my experiences in South Africa will inspire in me, and how I will continue to grow both over the summer and next year.


Samantha Kaplan-2015

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2015, Learn more on her profile here!