One of the biggest limitations of a student-run programme is that student volunteers are only active during the time they are on campus –leaving large gaps in our service to the SHAWCO communities. At the same time, universities all over the world are promoting cultural and academic exchanges involving a crucial aspect: service-learning. In 2004, recognising a win-win situation, SHAWCO launched its International Programme: the idea being that international students would be able to continue SHAWCO service to the communities (service learning) while simultaneously learning more about development, Africa and South Africa in particular.
SHAWCO International was showcased at two international conferences during 2004 with an overwhelming response. To date, SHAWCO has entered into partnership with universities, offering packages with varying mixes of academic, service-learning work, internships in township businesses and social enterprises along with site-seeing components. During their stay, the international students run holiday tutoring programmes, man SHAWCO Health Clinics, conduct research and carry out various health promotion projects in the SHAWCO communities, according to the requirements of their home university.
SHAWCO International provides opportunities for international students to engage with concepts such as globally responsible citizenship, health issues, social entrepreneurship and service –a unique niche, which is drawing in more and more universities each year.