Mali: Health, Gender, and Community Empowerment
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“The homestay was a fantastic overall experience. Nothing helped us better integrate into Malian culture and made us feel less like tourists and more like students and participants.”
Spring 2010 student
The Mali program includes two different homestays, first in Bamako and later in a rural village. During the program’s orientation period, students learn about typical Malian family structures, customs, and daily household practices to better prepare them for the homestay experience. As part of the orientation, they have a chance to spend time with a Malian family in the village of Siby (45 kilometers outside of Bamako) to help acclimate them to a Malian home.
Living with Malian families is frequently cited as one of the most meaningful components of the program.
Students spend six weeks living with a carefully selected Malian family in Bamako, the program base. Homes will have electricity and running water, as well as a private room for the SIT student. The program tries to place students with families according to their diets, their ISP proposals, and overall interests. Most of the Malian homestay families are located in the same neighborhood.
Before the students move in with their host families, the program organizes a naming ceremony where students and their host families meet each other for the first time. During the naming ceremony, students are given first and last names as proposed by a member of their host family. Students also take the last name of their host family, which helps local community members familiarize themselves with the students.
Living with a host family immerses students in Malian culture and society. It is also an ideal opportunity for students to practice speaking Bambara and French.
During the one-week village stay, students are placed in pairs with Malian families in homes with no electricity or running water. Bambara is the main language of communication. Students typically help their host families with chores, including some housework and farming activities. This experience puts students directly in touch with rural life in Mali.
Other accommodations during the program could include hostels, small hotels, or occasionally an additional stay with a Malian host family.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Mali, Bamako
Language Study: French
Prerequisites: 3 semesters French Read more...
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