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 SIT students.
Having lectures, excursions, and field activities together creates a deeply immersive and intellectually stimulating learning environment for 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 Baka-Bagyeli (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 seminars (five modules)
The thematic seminar on development and social change and on social pluralism and minorities facilitates the examination of five key topics:
- The economic, social, political, and cultural development of Cameroon
- Social change, with a focus on the effect of globalization and westernization on local traditions and cultures
- Development aid in the context of Cameroon
- Women and minority groups such as the Baka-Bagyeli (pygmies) and English-speaking Cameroonians
- The dynamics and impact of religion, the state, and traditions in a Muslim community in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon
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 Cameroonian 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 of 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, and important rites and ceremonies. He also explains the importance of chefferies (chiefdoms) in the nation-state.
In addition to lectures by university professors, local experts, and leaders, thematic seminar courses are complemented by several activities outside of the classroom. For example, students participate actively in International Women’s Day in the month of March by spending a day with members of a microfinance finance institution, marching with the female members of that institution and other women’s organizations, learning about the importance of microfinance institutions for women, and hearing specific stories about how microfinance has influenced/impacted these women’s lives. The program’s French language professors join the group on this visit to facilitate the discussion.
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.
While in Yaoundé, students are able to learn Central African modern and traditional dances during an average of four sessions. The dance professor, Patrick Roger, has been associated with the program for more than ten years and is also a professional drummer.
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: Yaoundé
Language Study: French, Fulfulde, Pidgin English
Prerequisites: 3 semesters college-level French or the equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in French, as assessed by SIT. Read more...
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