Cameroon: Social Pluralism and Development


Student with her homestay family

Students spend a total of five weeks in a homestay in Yaoundé, two weeks with a host family in the Western Region of Cameroon (Dschang), and two weeks with a family in Ngaoundéré. During the Independent Study Project period, students also stay with local families. These comparative homestay experiences give students a better understanding of the differences between urban and rural areas and facilitate immersion in Cameroonian host communities. Students often make long-lasting connections with their host families. The homestay experience is closely tied to the program's thematic seminar and allows students to deepen their understanding of the themes covered through the program’s coursework.

Most of the homestays in Yaoundé are with middle- to upper-class Cameroonians who have connections to, and an understanding of, life in the western world, having either sojourned there themselves or having children and close relatives who live there. These connections have affected their way of thinking as well as their economic status in comparison to the average Cameroonian. As the focus of our study while in Yaoundé is to further understand the complexity of development and development aid as it relates to the country, living with these families allows students to exchange ideas, interrogate, and debrief their experiences with these host families who have had experiences that allow them to compare and contrast life inside and outside of Cameroon.

In Dschang, students are placed with Bamiléké families and experience the realities of Bamiléké culture and traditions firsthand. The focus of study in Dschang is to examine an ethnic group that still maintains strong ties to its culture and is striving to retain some of its important features in the face of globalization. Living with Bamiléké families allows students to observe and participate in their daily activities and to ask questions to further understand lectures and field visits.

In Ngaoundéré, students are placed with Muslim families so they may witness how religion and traditions intersect in this northern town. Host families help to ground students’ understanding of the lectures on the changing political, social, and religious scenes in the mostly Muslim region and also help students to further understand the social pluralism and diversity of the country.

Other accommodations during the program could include hostels, private homes, and small hotels.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Yaounde

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...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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