Cameroon: Social Pluralism and Development
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Study alongside Cameroonian students.
Each semester, a small number of Cameroonian students participate in the full SIT Cameroon program. The Cameroonian students are enrolled in graduate programs at local universities, including the University of Yaoundé. They complete all of the program’s components—courses, excursions, and ISP research—alongside the SIT students.
Having lectures, excursions, and field activities together creates a deeply immersive and intellectually stimulating learning environment for the SIT students who benefit from their peers’ assessments and analyses of key issues facing Cameroon. Together, the students examine challenges relating to development; the role of minorities, particularly the Anglophones and Pygmies; and the impacts of British colonization, among many other topics.
The Cameroonian students gain the chance to experience the breadth of their country in collaboration with US students. Both groups benefit deeply from the program’s network of lecturers, resources, and program partners as well as the cross-cultural learning that studying together provides.
Yaoundé (program base)
The program is based in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s political capital and second largest city, commonly referred to as the city of seven hills. The program typically spends between five and six weeks in Yaoundé.
Thematic seminar (five modules)
The program’s thematic seminar facilitates examination of five key topics:
- History and development (social, cultural, and political history; crucial aspects of the Cameroon’s development)
- Social change (traditions and arts of the Bamiléké)
- Development organizations in the context of Cameroon
- Women and minority groups (particularly the pygmies)
- Islam, traditions, and the state
Learn from development experts and Cameroonian political leaders
Students are able to engage with staff at development organizations in the public, private, and nongovernmental sectors. This allows students to gain perspectives on Cameroon culture and development from a variety of sources. In one lecture, students hear from the president of a local, well-established NGO about the creation of NGOs and aid effectiveness in Cameroon.
Visits to important political leaders prompt examination of the highly significant role politics has played in shaping Cameroon’s history and development.
Engage with traditional leaders
A day at the palace of the chief of Batoufam provides students with firsthand experience on the life and customs of traditional leaders in Cameroon. The chief of Batoufam—respected for his level of education and strong attachment to his culture and people—discusses with students the process of becoming a chief, his responsibilities and challenges, as well as important rites and ceremonies.
Improve your French
Students receive intensive language instruction in French focused on improving their speaking, reading, and writing ability. Students are placed in intensive intermediate or advanced classes and gain additional language practice in homestays, lectures, and field visits. Students also receive basic oral instruction in Fulfulde while in Ngaoundéré.
Dance classes and cultural activities
Students are able to learn Central African modern and traditional dances, offered at the end of each week in Yaoundé. The dance professor, Patrick Roger, has been associated with the program for more than ten years and is a professional drummer. Patrick offers classes in drumming and instruction in making traditional instruments such as the Nvet and Balafon.
Students have the opportunity to participate in many cultural activities and events taking place in Yaoundé. On weekends, the program organizes optional trips to locations such as art schools, caves, and a gorilla sanctuary.
Group research project
Students participate in a group research project focused on a development issue in Cameroon. Students are divided into small groups and are encouraged to choose a development topic not covered by the program and research the topic using interview and survey methods. The group project helps students prepare for the ISP period as they become aware of the realities of doing research in Cameroon. The project also gives students the opportunity to work as a team and manage group dynamics.
Independent Study Project
Students spend four weeks engaged in an Independent Study Project (ISP), with the opportunity to pursue original research on a topic of particular interest to them. The ISP is conducted in Yaoundé or in another approved location in Cameroon appropriate to the project.
Sample ISP topics include:
- Education in a Cameroonian village
- Traditional healing
- Bilingualism and the media
- The makossa style of music
- Oral history of the Bamiléké people
- A women’s village cooperative
- Influence of oil on Cameroon’s economy and society
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Cameroon, Yaounde
Language Study: French, Fulfulde, Pidgin English
Prerequisites: 3 semesters French Read more...
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