FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

General

Who attends GSP?

GSP seeks dynamic, motivated high school students between the ages of 14 and 19 years from around the world who are thrilled at the prospect of an intense program in which they will develop as ethical leaders, contribute value to a social venture, experience new people and places, and build lasting friendships. Future leaders from over 30 different countries across Africa and the world are selected each year to attend GSP, making it one of the most diverse camp experiences for teenagers anywhere.

Will participating in GSP help me get into ALA’s 2 Year Diploma program?

No. The admissions and selection process for the 2 Year Program is entirely separate, with different criteria and financial assistance available. African students who do attend GSP will have an opportunity to meet with ALA Admissions staff while on campus GSP students who are still considering whether or not to apply to the Diploma program will experience ALA’s core Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum and get a feel for life on campus. If you are interested in applying to ALA’s Diploma program and want to find out more, click here.

Will attending GSP help me get into college/university?

GSP “graduates” have attended excellent colleges and universities in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa. Through GSP you will gain greater self-awareness and open your eyes in new ways to the world around you, and come away with the language to articulate that learning. ALA is a globally recognized education and entrepreneurial leadership institution – experiencing our program and joining our network of 1,000s of other young leaders will change your life!

 

Will I get high school credit for participating in GSP?

Students who attend GSP with a group from their school may receive credit (please contact your school administration). All GSP participants receive a certificate of completion that recognizes community service hours. ALA does not otherwise offer high school credit for GSP.

Destination Information

Where is ALA located?

ALA’s high school campus is located at 1050 Printech Avenue in Honeydew/Roodepoort 2040, Gauteng Province, South Africa. Honeydew is a suburb located approximately 23km/14 miles northwest of the Johannesburg city centre. You can reach campus reception at +27 11 699 3000.

Directions

What is the weather like in Joburg?

During June to August, it’s winter in South Africa! A mild, dry climate in general, expect sunny, but cool temps (60-70°F/16-20°C) during the day and colder temps (38-50°F/4-7°C) at night. It can get particularly cold on the camping excursion in mountains, so bring warm clothes (you’ll get a packing list). Layers are going to keep you comfortable throughout. An ALA hoodie is the perfect solution – you can purchase one when you register!

Where do participants go and what do they do during their GSP?

Each GSP session has its unique experiences and opportunities. However some of the places we typically visit include Kloofwaters Outdoor Centre, Apartheid Museum, Clearwater Mall, Soweto Township, Newtown neighbourhood, Cradle of Humankind (Sterkfontein Caves), and Lion & Safari Park. Engagement with local NGOs/non-profits in the Joburg area is also central to the GSP experience. Once enrolled in GSP, you will receive a session-specific schedule. Please note, we reserve the right to make changes to any session schedule at any time, if deemed necessary or in the best interest of the overall program and its participants.

What’s important to know about Africa?

Africa is the second largest continent in terms of population, and students will find an area of the world that is steeped in rich and vibrant history. Home to 54 countries and over 1,000 languages, the cultural diversity and pace of innovation across the continent is a wonder to explore. It is often said that Africa suffers from a “Youth Bulge,” with a substantial proportion of the population under the age of 20. We see this as an opportunity! In such an environment, the effort to develop ethical, entrepreneurial young leaders is paramount, and GSP’s unique curriculum and international focus will allow students to experience the history – and the future – of the African continent. Learn more here.

What’s important to know about South Africa?

Beyond the buzz of Joburg, South Africa stretches across the southern tip of the continent, an extraordinarily diverse country ecologically, topographically and culturally. From the glowing escarpment of the Drakensburg Mountains, dramatic shores of the Wild Coast and Cape Town, unforgiving landscape of the Karoo, and pastoral swaths of the Natal, it is a country of amazing contrasts. Fruits, livestock, diamonds and gold along with manufacturing and retail fuel the 2nd largest African economy. The country’s wildlife, cultural diversity, beaches, wineries, art scene, and infamous history of Apartheid make it one of the top tourist destinations on the continent. South Africa, however, continues to struggle with post-Apartheid reconciliation, HIV/AIDS, poverty alleviation, and other challenges. The work isn’t done yet. Learn more here.

What’s important to know about Johannesburg?

Johannesburg, also known as Egoli, the city of gold, takes its name from history as South Africa’s biggest gold mining town. The economic capital of South Africa, “Joburg” remains a bustling, diverse city steeped in cultural history and bursting with forward-focused creativity. The Central Business District, or CBD, the city’s core abandoned in the 1990’s by corporations, government and people with means to leave, is experiencing a dynamic renaissance. Surrounding the core are diverse, green, quiet suburbs extending in all directions to rural areas replete with farms, wildlife sanctuaries, and parks. To the South of the city lies Soweto, South Africa’s largest township that was home to some of the first youth movements against apartheid and continues to be a centre of social justice progress for the city. To the north lies Sandton, the wealthiest “zip code” on the continent, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, home to some of the biggest South African and international corporations. Learn more here.

Visas, Medical Insurance & Required Documents

Do I need a Visa to attend GSP and, if so, where can I get one?

Passport holders of many countries, including the U.S., U.K., France and Botswana, are exempt (not required) from South Africa tourist visas if staying 90 days or less. Those not exempt must apply in person at a South African embassy or consulate in their own country. Pay attention to the visa duration as some expire after thirty days with severe penalties for overstaying — important especially if you are planning additional family travel following your GSP session. Always check the South Africa Department of Home Affairs website for details.

 

IMPORTANT: Your passport / travel documents must be valid for thirty (30) more days after the intended return date from South Africa, and must contain at least two (2) unused (blank) pages labelled Visa when presented at the Embassy or Consulate.

How long does it take to get a visa?

The length of time it takes for a visa to be processed varies across consulates/embassies and individual circumstances. Allow for at least three weeks.

My Visa application was denied. What do I do now?

Request from your SA Consulate/Embassy the reason for the denial. In most cases, we can help you reapply. Be sure to apply early enough so as to have sufficient time to reapply in time, if necessary. As a last resort, we will defer your GSP participation to next summer.

I don’t have a passport. How do I get one?

In many countries, most post offices or “home affairs” departments can help you apply. If you’re not sure, check your government’s website or call your local government office. Some countries now have online applications.

Do I need medical insurance?

Yes! All GSP participants must provide proof of medical/health insurance valid the duration of their chosen session. Anyone who arrives without insurance will be not be allowed to go on excursions until they are covered – at their expense. Only basic coverage is required. In most cases, a simple travel rider on your family plan is sufficient. Two companies that offer travellers/short-term insurance include  International SOS and TCI.

How do I get a certified/notarized copy of a document?

This depends on the country, and in some cases even states or provinces within a country. Most police stations or post offices are able to certify/notarize documents. Do your homework and find out in advance!

Do I need to print and bring hard copies of every single document?

YES! It is important that you have all of your documents when going through immigration upon arrival in South Africa. Also, be sure to leave copies with a family member at home. When in doubt, just bring it.

Travel Information

When should I arrive?

We ask that students arrive on the Start Date of their session. Plan on purchasing a flight that has you arrive at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport on that date. You can find session dates here.

Can I arrive early or leave late?

It’s important that participants arrive on the start-of-camp date and depart on the end-of-camp date. We are not able to accommodate early arrivals or late departures.

Will I be picked up and dropped off at the airport?

Yes. You will be greeted at the airport by a GSP team and transported to campus on an ALA bus. At the end of your program, our team will take you back to the airport and ensure you are safely past the ticket counter and on to security check-in and Customs.

Can I drop off/pick up my child at the ALA campus?

Yes. If you live in the area or are on holiday here with your family, you can be dropped off and/or picked up at the ALA campus. You must send us your arrival details, including time and names of all people in the vehicle, 48 hours in advance.

Can parents visit ALA and help their child get settled?

Yes! Parents and other family members are invited to attend a Family Welcome event on the start date of each session, at either 11:00am or 3:00pm. Join us for a campus tour, GSP staff Q&A, and refreshments.

What should I pack?

Once your application is accepted, you will receive a packing list that will outline everything you’ll need for your GSP experience. We recommend you stick to the list provided – travel light! — and avoid bringing valuables.

Campus Information

What are the dorms like?

ALA’s residence halls are modern, spacious, well-lit and include modern bathrooms, kitchenettes, and common spaces with comfortable furniture. Dorm rooms include two single beds, two desks with chairs, and two cupboards for clothes. Each room has a lockable window and a heater for cold nights. Linens and bedding is provided.

 

Can I request to room with a friend?

If you’re coming to GSP with friends, you’ll have lots of time to spend with them. We will match you with a roommate from a different country so you can start building your global network of friends on day one! All dorm rooms and halls are single-gender.

Will I be able to do laundry?

Yes. Laundry machines are located in each residence hall. Dryers are coin operated; coins are provided for 2 cycles. Additional coins can be purchased, as well as laundry soap.

What sports can I play on campus?

ALA’s campus boasts a variety of sports facilities: basketball courts, full size and 5-on-5 football (soccer!) fields, and tennis courts. There is also a running/walking trail and lots of space for yoga, workouts, and dance.

Fees, Refunds & Spending Money

Can I pay GSP fees in instalments?

Payment plans can be worked out to make paying easier on your family. However, account balances must reconciled prior to your session start date.  Please contact us at summer@africanleadershipacademy.org to discuss options.

Can I get a refund if I need to cancel my registration?

All program tuition fees, minus the $500 deposit, are fully refundable before the refund deadline. You may request a refund or a credit towards another session or season of GSP.  The refund deadline for the 2017 season of GSP is 31 May 2017. Please refer to our GSP Refund Policy for details.

Is the deposit refundable?

The $500 deposit is non-refundable once an applicant is accepted. This deposit is inclusive of a $50 program application fee. If an application is unsuccessful, $450 of the deposit will be refunded.

How do I exchange my money for South African Rand (ZAR)?

After you arrive and collect your luggage at the airport, our GSP team will take you to a currency exchange kiosk. If you are being dropped off at the ALA campus, you will need to have changed your money into ZAR prior to arrival. Once on campus there will be no opportunities to exchange currency.

How much money should I bring?

We generally recommend anywhere from $100-$300 USD to purchase snacks, apparel, and gifts during outings to the mall and other locations.

What do I do with my money and valuables on campus?

Upon arrival, you will place your money, forms, passport, and small valuables into an envelope with your name on it, which will then be put into a safe. You will be issued a “Cashless Card” that works like a debit card on our campus – you will deposit money into the system through which you will be able to purchase snacks and apparel from the ALA store.

Safety, Security & Health

Is the ALA campus safe?

The safety and security of our participants is our #1 priority. The ALA campus has a strict access policy and is guarded by a 24-hour security service. Our residence halls are protected by a bio-metric system, which limits entry only to residents of each hall, and each hall has an emergency fire door, which is permanently armed. There are surveillance cameras, fire extinguishers, and emergency switches on every residence hall and other spaces across campus.

Do I need immunizations for South Africa?

? In most cases, immunizations required by schools/ministries of education are sufficient for tourist entry into South Africa. However, we recommend that you speak to your family physician and/or a travel medicine professional, and consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention South Africa travellers’ information website. If you are traveling outside the Johannesburg area before or after your GSP session, be sure to seek information specific to your intended destinations.

Is malaria endemic in South Africa?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention malaria is not currently present in the Johannesburg area. If your travel plans include other areas of South Africa or other countries it is advisable that you consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention South Africa travellers’ information website. As per above, we recommend that you speak to your family physician and/or a travel medicine professional when making any travel plans.

What happens if I get sick or injured during my GSP session?

ALA has 24/7 on-campus health staff, including a nurse during regular working hours. Staff manage basic health concerns and can administer certain Over The Counter (OCT) medicines. All other situations are referred to the closest hospital trauma/urgent care facility. Emergency transport is handled by a contracted emergency medical service.

I have food allergies/dietary restrictions. Is ALA able to support my needs?

During GSP on-campus meals include vegetarian, vegan, and Halal options. We work with individuals around specific allergies or other dietary restrictions. Please note that our facility is not nut-free or fully kosher. When eating off-campus, we do our best to accommodate individual needs. Specific information is provided in enrolment and medical forms.

Parents & Communications

Will I be able to contact home/my parents during the program?

Yes. While we encourage participants to be fully “present” during GSP (i.e., not texting friends constantly or calling home every day!), we understand wanting to check in with home on occasion. Participants have 24/7 on-campus WiFi access (we cannot guarantee WiFi access when off-campus). As well, there is a campus phone from which students may make calls home. Upon arrival, at the airport, participants may purchase a SIM card in order to call home immediately. Free communication apps such as WhatsApp are an excellent means of staying in touch.

Will there be communication to parents during GSP?

We love sharing what’s going on at GSP! Parents receive weekly emails and daily updates are posted on social media.

If we live or are staying near the ALA campus, can I come see my child?

Yes. We love having visitors! Please note that all visitors, including parents, must have prior approval to enter the campus, so please email us at summer@africanleadershipacademy.org in advance so we can place the names of visitors on our security guest list.

Can my parents attend the Ideas Festival?

Definitely. Just remind them to make arrangements in advance via email so we know they are coming. See above for information related to campus visitors.