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Public Health in the Tropics Internship

Explore the complexities of public health promotion and practice in Kenya and the tropics while gaining practical professional experience in public health.

At a Glance





Language of Study


Courses taught in



Jun 5 – Jul 24

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Global Health & Well-being

Global Health & Well-being Icon


Why intern in public health in Kenya?

The Lake Victoria region is a site of infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases. In Kisumu, home to the largest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) facility outside North America on a joint campus of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, you’ll complete a five-week internship focused on public health. During your time here, you’ll also enjoy two weekend excursions, first, to Maasai Mara National Reserve, home to lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, and hippos; and then to Jinja, Uganda, a quiet town on Lake Victoria known as the source of the Nile.


  • Complete an internship at the CDC or the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
  • Reflect on western stereotypes and preconceptions about Kenya and Africa.
  • Study Kiswahili, the lingua franca of East Africa.
  • Take two weekend excursions to Maasai Mara National Reserve and Jinja, Uganda


None; however, preference is given to students with prior coursework or background in health and policy studies or related fields.

program map


Maasai Mara National Reserve

You’ll spend a weekend at Maasai Mara National Reserve, a preserved savannah contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in neighboring Tanzania. Maasai Mara, named in honor of the Maasai people, is home to lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, hippos, and many other species. Around July each year, the wildebeest, Maasai Mara’s dominant inhabitants, migrate north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture. Known as The Great Migration, it is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide.

Jinja: Source of the Nile

Spend a weekend in the quiet town of Jinja, Uganda, on the shores Lake Victoria. Jinja is best known as the source of the Nile, making it an ideal location for boating and water adventure.


Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the ethics of internships in the context of Kenya. 
  • Outline the complexities and practice within public health in Kenya and the tropics more broadly. 
  • Adapt to working collaboratively on interest areas within a different culture. 
  • Articulate the output of iterative internship experiences in the form of a final oral presentation.  
  • Synthesize the cumulative learning experiences of the internships in a final paper. 

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Complexities of public health promotion and practices in Kenya
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  • Adjusting to and working collaboratively in different cultures
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  • The ethics of internship in the context of Kenya
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Internship and Seminar

Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

This course consists of a five-week internship with a national, international, or local public health delivery organization based in Kenya. The internship enables students to gain valuable work experience in the public health field and introduces students to planning, delivery, and management of public health in the tropics, using western Kenya as the case study.

Internship Fields: Epidemiology, public health promotion in the tropics, health education, primary healthcare, tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS prevention

Sample internships:

  • Assisting health-related projects with the Red Cross and USAID
  • Conducting policy research at African Population and Health Research Center
  • Assisting research on HIV, TB, and malaria at Kenya Medical Research Institute and the CDC
  • Working on hygiene, sanitation, and environmental projects with Network for Water and Sanitation
  • Supporting Amref Health Africa’s projects in Kenya
  • Providing healthcare and emotional support at Kenya’s Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS


Intensive Language Study: Beginning Kiswahili – syllabus
(SWAH1003-1503 / 3 credits)

Intensive Language Study: Intermediate Kiswahili – syllabus
(SWAH2003-2503 / 3 credits)

Intensive Language Study: Advanced Kiswahili – syllabus
(SWAH3003-3503 / 3 credits)

Emphasis is on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Based on an in-country evaluation that includes oral proficiency testing, students are placed in intensive classes at the appropriate level, with additional language practice taking place through homestays, lectures, and field visits. Daily classes during the first two weeks of the urban homestay are followed by continuing lessons in a variety of field settings, which provide an opportunity for additional Kiswahili language practice.



In Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city, located on the shores of Lake Victoria, you’ll live with a host family throughout the program. By participating in the homestay, you’ll become part of a local family, sharing meals and joining them for special occasions. Practice Kiswahili at home with your host family by speaking with them in their language. This experience gives you a unique opportunity to understand the country through their eyes.

Kisumu is a relaxed city and one of the safest in Kenya. Homestays are generally in walking distance to SIT’s program office. Kisumu is a major port and trading hub, and the center of the Luo community, an ethnic group which President Barack Obama is linked to through his paternal line. Kisumu’s fisheries and agriculture are important contributors to the local, regional, and national economy.

Faculty & Staff

Kenya: Public Health in the Tropics Internship

Steve Wandiga, PhD bio link
Steve Wandiga, PhD
Academic Director

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award nearly 1 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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