Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
Kenya Frequently Asked Questions
"Seeking out the unfamiliar to make it familiar was a challenge that helped to satisfy my curiosity about the world I was living in. There was so much to learn, to I absorb, to attempt to understand that it was real period of personal growth”
1. Is the Kenya Program offered in both the Fall and Spring?
Yes the Kenya Program runs each semester and since 2005 we have also offered a number of summer courses.
2. Do I have to be an SLU Student to Apply?
No, we welcome applications from other colleges and universities. In fact about 1/3 of the students are typically from other colleges and over 600 non-SLU students from nearly 30 different universities have participated on the Kenya program since its inception.
3. Are there any prerequisites to apply?
Yes, students must take at least one African Studies course (AFS) prior to going. Among the courses commonly taught at St. Lawrence we recommend looking into one or more of the following:
SWAH 101/AFS 100- Elementary Kiswahili
HIST 108/AFS 101- Introduction to African Studies
ANTH/AFS 225- Peoples and Cultures of Africa
GOVT/AFS 230- African Politics
Note: Students from outside of SLU are encouraged to contact the program's faculty coordinator to discuss potential substitute courses at their home campus.
4. Isn't the Kenya Program more for students interested in Conservation Biology or Environmental Studies?
No. While it is true that Biology/Environmental studies majors can receive credit towards their major, the Kenya program is open to students of all academic interests. Courses and field components explore the Kenyan environment, politics, history, economic development, culture and many other aspects of Kenyan life. Plus the Independent Study during the last month of the semester allows students to be placed with an organization directly related to their fields of interest.
5. What courses can I take in Kenya?
- Two required courses during the semester:
1. 1 unit of Swahili
2. 1.5 unit Core course: AFS 337 Culture, Environment and Development in East Africa (Can be counted for African Studies, Anthropology, Environmental Studies or Global Studies).
- A Choice of Two Elective Courses (Courses vary by semester but commonly include)
1. AFS/BIO/ENVS/ 242 Biodiversity Conservation and Management in East Africa
2. AFS/GOVT/SOC 326 Critical Issues in Socio-Economic Development in Kenya
3. AFS/ANTH/GNDR 247 Gender Issues in Traditional and Modern Kenya
4. AFS/HIST 354 Introduction to the History of Modern Kenya
6. What is the Independent Study (IDS)?
The last four weeks of the program are devoted to an independent study (IDS), which is arranged individually according to each student's academic field of specialty and interest. Students carry out activities as instructed by a supervisor from the host organization and in doing so they get exposed to the daily work of a Kenyan organization, and if possible, to provide some small help to the organizations that kindly agree to host you. At the end of your independent study, you will write a final paper analyzing your experience in connection with the core course. Given the range of contacts the Kenya program has developed over the years, a wide variety of options are available. Here are a few examples of recent IDS placements to give you a sense of the range of options.
1. Worked with NGO Soft Power Education (Jinja, Uganda)
2. Volunteered at the Sally Test Pediatric Care Center (Eldoret, Kenya)
3. Assisted with Turtle Conversation on the Kenyan Coast
4. Organized a Fashion for Peace show in Nairobi
5. Worked with the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya
6. Coached Soccer with the Mathare Youth Sports Association
7. Etc......there are just too many options to list.
7. What if I'm not interested in a career in African Studies, is the Kenya program for me?
While the KSP has been a launching pad for many professional careers in African related fields, the experience has imparted countless other life lessons on alums throughout the years. Many alumni credit the cross-cultural communication skills and eye opening experiences on the KSP to their success in fields of business, education, finance, journalism, medicine and government service. One alumnus (Christopher Coons) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 from the state of Delaware and now sits on the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations as the Chair of the Sub-Committee on African Affairs.
In the end the KSP allows each student to experience a variety of diverse cultural settings where students often learn as much about themselves as they do about Kenya. To learn more about the diverse paths of many of our alums please check out our alumni profiles, read the "Habari Gani" section in the St. Lawrence Magazine and visit our Facebook page
8. Who can I talk more to about Kenya?
The first place to look is the CIIS office in Carnegie Hall. Assistant Director of Off-Campus Programs Drew Pynchon is an alumnus of the KSP and helps coordinate the student peer advisors for Kenya. The current faculty coordinator is Wendi Haugh from the anthropology department. Many faculty associated with the African studies program have an intimate knowledge of the KSP as well as other KSP alums turn SLU staff members such as Assistant Director of Admissions Lynsday LaBarge.