In January 2017 Dr. Godlove Fonjweng and I will lead a Hartwick College January Term off-campus program in Cameroon. On Thursday, September 8 he and I will participate in an information session in Dewar Hall outside the Commons as part of Hartwick’s JTerm Mini Program Fair.
Cameroon is a Central/West African country about the size of California with a population of about 18 million people with over 250 ethnic groups, each with its own language and culture. It is officially bilingual in French and English and is the only African country to have been colonized by three different Western powers. Cameroon was discovered and named by the Portuguese and then colonized by the Germans, English and French. The German influence is still visible, mainly in the area of building & road infrastructure and plantation agriculture. The French and English influences are most visible in the two educational and legal systems concurrently practiced in the Anglophone and Francophone regions of Cameroon. Cameroon also served as a port for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Cameroon spans all the three major vegetation belts of Africa- Equatorial Rain Forest in the south, Savanna in the middle and Sahel (semi desert) in the north. Cameroon’s ecological diversity is in part responsible for its cultural diversity, which mimics Africa’s diversity and which has earned it the nickname Petite Afrique or Africa in Miniature.
The program will allow students to fulfill the LAiP language requirement during one January term. It is open to all students at all levels, from first-years to seniors, and it combines language immersion with community-based service learning. It will offer opportunities to discover the rich diversity of music, art, history, religion and cultures in Cameroon. It will also help students understand many of the challenges the country faces (e.g. poverty, malaria and AIDS).
Students will complete at least 50 hours of in-class instruction in French according to their level of proficiency in the language. Courses will take a communicative approach and give students the structures and vocabulary they will need to communicate effectively with Cameroonians.
All students will participate in workshops on cross-cultural communication, cultural values, and gender realities in Cameroon. They will also learn skills in adapting to new cultural environments using their experience in Cameroon as a case study, and they will reflect on what those skills will mean to them when they return to the United States.
The program will be delivered in partnership with the Pan African Institute for Development in West Africa (PAID-WA). Two of PAID-WA’s 4 regional centers in Africa are located in the Cameroon towns of Buea (Anglophone region) and Douala (Francophone region). The goal is to work with both Centers, which are two hours driving distance from each other. PAID-WA’s highly qualified staff and also organize lectures and visits to local sites as part of a very flexible curriculum that offers instruction on the following topics:
- Development challenges in Cameroon
- Environmental Studies
- Cameroon’s English-French bilingual Education System
- Women in Cameroonian society/Role of Women’s Organizations in Development
- Chieftaincy and cultures of Cameroon
- Indirect rule (through the chiefs) by the Germans in Cameroon and roles of chiefs in contemporary Cameroon
- Bimbia Slave trade village: The door of no return. This location served as a very important supply zone for the export of African slaves to the New World.
- Health Issues in Development
- Urbanization – Douala In Transition
- Subsistence and plantation agriculture
- Art – painting, pottery, weaving, carving etc.
- Panel discussions with members of the business, development, legal, education community.