Develop an understanding of the complexities of public health promotion and practice in Kenya and in the tropics more broadly while gaining practical work experience in public health.
Complete an internship at the Centers for Disease Control or the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
Kisumu and the broader Lake Victoria area were the epicenter for HIV and AIDS when it first emerged in the 1980s. Investments were made in medical research to respond to these and other health needs. Today, Kisumu is home to a joint campus of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Founded as a collaborative venture in 1979, the partnership is the largest the CDC has abroad.
Gain professional experience in a supportive environment.
In the two weeks prior to your actual internship, you will be prepared for the internship through an introduction to the broader social, cultural, and political context of Kenya as well as key issues in public health in Western Kenya. During this period, your afternoons will be a combination of individual tutorials and site visits. You’ll also discuss the ethics of the internship and workplace norms in Kenya. Once internship placements are confirmed, you, together with the academic director, will review learning objectives for the internship and discuss expectations, including timeframes, logistics, and the content, layout, and general guidelines of the final internship paper.
Challenge yourself and reflect on your internship experience.
You’ll examine western stereotypes and preconceptions about Kenya and Africa. You’ll consider how you have been taught to understand foreign places and you’ll learn to think carefully about your motivations. During the five-week internship, you will keep a daily internship journal responding to questions/issues about the experience of working in an intercultural setting, surprises and challenges you faced, factors that hinder or support the organization you’re interning with, insights you’ve gained into the field of health, and skills you have developed. You’ll also have weekly discussions and debriefings with your group on social and cultural issues and be assigned curated readings that help you reflect on your internship experience. Two progress reports and a final reflection paper will tie your internship experience to the readings, discussions, and program themes.
Study Kiswahili, the lingua franca of East Africa.
Kiswahili is spoken throughout East Africa, including in the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and parts of Mozambique. Through the program’s intensive language course, offered at beginning to advanced levels, you will gain conversational ability in Kiswahili, which will enable you to better connect with your homestay family, coworkers, and host communities. Though your internship will be conducted in English, you will have opportunities to apply your emerging skills and advance your vocabulary.
Enjoy two weekend excursions.
You’ll spend one weekend at Maasai Mara National Reserve, a preserved savannah on the border with Tanzania. Maasai Mara is home to lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, hippos, and numerous other species. You’ll also spend a weekend in Jinja, Uganda, a quiet town on Lake Victoria that is best known as the source of the Nile.
Stay with a homestay family in Kisumu.
Critical Global Issue of Study
None; however, preference is given to students with prior coursework/experience in health and policy studies or related fields.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- The ethics of internship in the context of Kenya
- Adjusting to and working collaboratively in a different culture
- The complexities of public health promotion and practice in Kenya and in the tropics more broadly
- How gender norms vary by class and residence and how these in turn affect access to healthcare in Kenya
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.
- Internship and Seminar – syllabus
- (ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- 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.
- Intensive Language Study: Beginning Kiswahili – syllabus
- (SWAH1003-1503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Intensive Language Study: Intermediate Kiswahili – syllabus
- (SWAH2003-2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Intensive Language Study: Advanced Kiswahili – syllabus
- (SWAH3003-3503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- 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.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Steve Wandiga, PhD, Academic Director
Steve is a senior research officer at Kenya Medical Research Center (KEMRI) in Kisumu where he has led the tuberculosis research team and coordinated a weekly science seminar series for visiting scientists. He serves on the steering committee of the East African Consortium for Clinical Research and is co-chair of the TB Stakeholder Community Engagement Working Group and a member of the TB Clinical Trials Infrastructure Working Group. Steve has also coordinated the East Africa Healthy Pregnancy, Birth, Growth, and Development Knowledge Initiative that is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Steve holds a PhD in medical research, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany and a Master of Arts in project planning and management from the University of Nairobi. A Kenyan citizen, Steve lives in Kisumu, Kenya, with his spouse, June Kasyoki, and their two girls.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city, is located on the shores of Lake Victoria. A major port and trading hub and the center of the Luo community, Kisumu has played a significant role in the country’s modern history. Its fisheries and agriculture are important contributors to the local, national, and regional economy. Here, you will live with a local family. Kisumu is a trading city at the crossroads of East and Central Africa, a relaxed city in a beautiful setting on the sloping shores of Lake Victoria. Kisumu homestays are generally within walking distance to SIT’s program office.
The internship will introduce you to the planning, delivery, and management of public health in the tropics, using western Kenya as the case study. Internship placements will be at Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Centers for Disease Control or public health–related organizations in Kisumu.
Throughout the five-week internship, you will keep a daily journal about your experiences and will have regular sessions with SIT faculty to reflect on your experiences.
In addition, you will submit a paper in which you describe, assess, and analyze what you learned during your internship. The paper will outline the tasks you completed throughout the internship, professional relationships you developed, and challenges you encountered and how you overcame them.
Internship Fields: Epidemiology, public health promotion in the tropics, health education, primary healthcare, tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS prevention
- 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
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and 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 more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
This program is eligible for a New Horizons Grant, a scholarship for our new programs. Award amounts are $2,500 for semester and $1,500 for summer programs. Students demonstrating need through their submitted scholarship application will be eligible.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers
- Preparation for the internship
- Intensive language instruction in Kiswahili
- All educational excursions, including all related travel costs
- Internship (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $1,600
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes orientation, time in the program base (Kisumu), on all excursions, during the internship, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- The homestay
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend to the student, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $ 51
International Phone: Each student must bring a phone with them to their program.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.