Making a Difference in South Africa

Oglethorpe’s mission to “make a life, make a living, make a difference” affects not only its students, but also touches lives in the global community. Last fall, Oglethorpe extended its global reach, becoming the new academic partner of LeadAbroad, a purpose driven summer study abroad program. And this summer, students from more than 30 universities nationwide traveled to Greece, Ecuador, and Cape Town, South Africa to experience LeadAbroad’s unique combination of “Leadership, Education, Adventure and Diplomacy.”

Children in the Sir Lowry's township of Cape Town
Children in the Sir Lowry’s township of Cape Town

Oglethorpe’s Dr. Kendra Momon, associate professor of politics and director of the Rich Foundation Urban Leadership Program, led 81 students on their month-long journey through Cape Town, South Africa. She served as the academic director for the group, instructing two courses: “Leadership in Action” and “Global Citizenship & Engagement.”

What sets LeadAbroad’s LEAD programs apart from other study abroad programs? The program combines academic curriculum with two weeks focused on service projects that expand upon the classroom learning. Living and serving in these underprivileged communities allows students to apply the principles they learn in classes and creates an immersive atmosphere that often transforms the lives of the students, as well as the members of the community they serve.

Oglethorpe’s objective to make a difference is enriched by the LeadAbroad LEAD programs. “There is no doubt that we (made a difference) in Cape Town this summer,” said Momon. “…Two weeks of the program, in rotation for the two student groups, are spent in local townships serving poor and disadvantaged children and teenagers.”

Dr. Momon and Janine in Cape Town.

The partnership opens up possibilities for Oglethorpe to spread the word about the school and its mission to create global citizens throughout the countries that LeadAbroad serves, universities nationwide, and with the non-OU students who are exposed to the Oglethorpe curriculum and teaching. Students receive six Oglethorpe credit-hours while studying abroad with LeadAbroad which are transferred to their home university. Oglethorpe’s dynamic faculty are the perfect ambassadors for Oglethorpe. Dr. Momon, who showed her love for OU through her apparel and anecdotes, told me a story about Janine, a 13-year-old South African girl whom she got to know during their two weeks of service. “Janine asked me to give her something to remember me so I gave her my beloved black OU fitted cap which I’ve had for five years.”

This year alone, LeadAbroad and Oglethorpe will potentially change the lives of hundreds of students and people scattered around the globe. The partnership creates exciting possibilities for the future of Oglethorpe study abroad and global leadership opportunities.

Dr. Momon agrees. “I think the partnership is a great opportunity to extend our brand internationally as well as extend the scope of our motto to make a life, make a living, and make a difference.”

To keep up with the experiences of students and Oglethorpe traveling with LeadAbroad, visit

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