Please visit our website for more information. The SIT Bolivia program offers students a wide range of experiences in different communities and the opportunity to interact with families, community leaders, diverse experts, and organizations as they explore community well-being in Bolivia. Exploring Cochabamba The program is based in Cochabamba, located in the heart of Bolivia, nestled within a valley surrounded by the Andes mountain range. It is strongly influenced by indigenous Quechua culture and is often referred to as the "city of eternal spring" due to its pleasant temperate climate. The city is home to the largest outdoor market in Latin America, and, although its metropolitan population has reached one million, it is difficult to walk through the center of town or through one of its many beautiful parks and plazas without bumping into someone you know. Take part in three homestays. During the first six weeks of the program, students live with urban host families in Cochabamba. As part of the seminar on community well-being and resilience, students will also have the opportunity to live for three days with an Aymara host family on the shores of Lake Titicaca and for two days with a host family in the rural Bolivian Amazon. Engage with academic, professional, and community experts. Students are exposed to a wide range of people and perspectives. Students meet local families in Cochabamba, indigenous community members in the tropical and highland regions, NGO workers and aid experts, spiritual leaders, feminist activists, artists, and others. The program looks at issues from many perspectives to productively complicate students’ understanding of community well-being and resilience. Develop your ability to work with communities. Learn how diverse local cultures perceive and live in communities. Students engage with the controversial question about what it means to “help” as an outsider and learn firsthand what is unique and important for community resilience. This aspect of the program helps prepare students for possible career paths in community work. Take part in a final workshop. The final workshop is tailored to linking these experiences in Bolivia with community work in other sites. Students consider a number of questions related to community work, including: How can one best enter into a community and try to be helpful? How might the experience of having examined indigenous and Western concepts related to well-being affect the way you take on future work with families, community organizations, and others? Develop your Spanish or Quechua skills. Build your Spanish skills for use onsite and in the future, or add Quechua to your language learning. In addition to small-group language courses, almost all program components are conducted in Spanish. Students who place out of our advanced level course may choose to take advanced literature or Quechua courses instead (for an additional cost). Participate in notable excursions and events. The group travels to communities in the Andean Altiplano and the Amazonian lowlands. Complete an Independent Study Project (ISP). All students produce a final Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program’s broad concerns. The ISP can be conducted in Cochabamba or other sites in Bolivia, as approved by the academic director. While some students choose to produce an extended research paper, other students choose a nontraditional format, such as documentary, dance, theater, photography, or a bilingual children's book as part of their Independent Study Project. Sample topic areas for the ISP include: Systems of Andean community justice in rural communities Integrating traditional midwives into rural community hospitals serving indigenous families Using dance to raise awareness of discrimination against Afro-Bolivians Decolonizing education within Bolivia’s rural indigenous universities Psychology of children of Bolivian migrants Women leading the fight against mining contamination in their communities
YAOUNDE - MFOU Road, Cameroon
Please visit our website for more information. 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 (four modules) The thematic seminars on development and social change and social pluralism and minorities facilitate the examination of four 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 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. Cameroon is part of francophone Africa, so students have many opportunities to practice French language skills. Students receive intensive language instruction in French focused on beginning or improving their speaking, reading, and writing abilities, while gaining insights — through language — into everyday life in Cameroon. All levels of French are accommodated on the program. Beginning students are placed in intensive introductory classes. Those at more advanced levels focus on French for Development Studies, using local Cameroonian literature to explore the realities of postcolonial life. All students gain additional language practice in homestays and field visits and more advanced students are encouraged to complete their Independent Study Projects, including the accompanying paper, entirely in French. Students also receive basic oral instruction in either Pidgin English or Fulfulde during excursions to facilitate local communication. Dance classes 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 partnered 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: Political opinion among Cameroonian youth Chinese and American development efforts and perceptions in Cameroon Gender roles and standards of beauty in Cameroon Traditional and modern healing: people’s preferences The uses and practices of bilingualism in Cameroonian schools The influences of westernization on the Bikutsi style of music Oral history of the Bamiléké people Land grabbing and its local impacts Microfinance and women’s empowerment
Please visit our website for more information. Prague (program base) Well known for its stunning architecture, this program brings students behind Prague’s historical façade. Students attend cultural activities, festivals, and art shows, which are off the beaten track and represent an alternative and creative culture. In Prague, students live with host families and take part in lectures and seminars on topics related to the history of the arts and social change in the Czech Republic. Students enrolled in the arts studio elective course will conduct independent creative work during this period. Students also may participate in civic initiatives that draw upon the creative legacy of Czech underground culture. These could include Car-free Day and European Mobility Week or arts events that raise awareness of marginalized groups, such as the multicultural festival Colorful Planet and the Babi Leto festival at Prague’s psychiatric clinic. Other cultural activities such as theater projects for refugees, contemporary dance, art, and photo exhibitions help broaden students’ understanding of Czech history and contemporary life. Choice of focus Through the program’s foundation seminar, students examine contemporary arts in the Czech Republic as well as the role art played as an agent of social change throughout the country’s twentieth-century history. Students are then able to delve deeper into these themes through the continuation course where students visit nonprofit organizations devoted to social change or, alternatively, students can enroll in the program’s Arts Studio course, specifically customized for students of visual and performing arts and creative writing. Educational excursions in different artistic and cultural contexts in central Europe During the first month of the semester, students participate in educational excursions to rural Czech villages in Moravia or Bohemia to learn about the art culture and social reality beyond Prague. Students interact with local residents, community leaders, and artists involved in initiatives for cultural revival and community development. Students also travel to the former Sudetenland to discuss Czech-German cultural relations and to Slovakia, Poland, to conduct comparative studies of these neighboring countries’ arts and civic initiatives. Independent Study Project During the final month of the semester, each student pursues an Independent Study Project (ISP). The project gives students a unique opportunity to critically examine a topic, situation, or community related to the arts or social change in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Poland. Artists, civil society activists, professors, and specialists help students in the development and implementation of their ISP, which may include daily work with an organization or school or a creative component in visual arts, creative writing, or film. Sample topic areas: Roma identity in the Czech Republic Slovak language laws and ethnic marginalization Artists working outside the official realm under communism The experience of Czechs and Germans in post-war Sudetenland. Creative projects have included: Sculpture and ceramic vessels inspired by the Celts of Central Europe A screenplay inspired by Czech absurdist literature A graphic design project inspired by Czech cubist architecture Creative non-fiction work and films drawing upon the social reality of life under communism Explore the Czech Republic's contemporary art scene and the role of art as a social change agent throughout the country's history.  Students study the country's communist past, its post-socialist transition, and the new challenges facing artists and communities today as a result of globalization and tourism. Site visits to artists' studios and theaters, NGO offices, and community centers expose students to the country's beleaguered arts infrastructure as well as the initiatives in place to protect and promote the arts and social initiatives. The program consists of three main components: An eight- to twelve-week homestay in Prague. During this period, students have lectures, participate in roundtable discussions with leading specialists in the arts and post-socialist society, visit NGOs and artist studios, and engage in the cultural life of Prague. This includes attending gallery openings and theater performances and joining Czech participants in visual arts, dance, and other arts classes. Fifteen days of educational excursions in the Czech Republic, Poland, and central Slovakia. The program also includes an excursion to the former Sudetenland. A final four-week period during which students focus on an Independent Study Project (ISP). Each facet of the program exposes students to different perspectives on the role and evolution of art throughout Central European history and the impact of post-socialism on the contemporary arts scene.