Middlebury establishes program in Cameroon
November 10, 2011
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ― Middlebury College has established a new program in Cameroon, the newest C.V. Starr-Middlebury School Abroad and the first in sub-Saharan Africa. Located in the city of Yaoundé and affiliated with L’Université catholique d’Afrique centrale (UCAC), the program will begin offering classes in the fall of 2012.
The curriculum is designed for high intermediate and advanced French language students. Middlebury will work with UCAC to organize courses for program participants in several disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Students are also expected to enroll in courses alongside Cameroonian students at the university, striking a balance between program and university offerings. All coursework will be conducted in French by local faculty.
Middlebury staff will identify local families who will host the 10-15 students per semester who are expected to enroll.
Students will adhere to the Middlebury College Language Pledge ― a promise to speak no language other than the one they are studying. According to Middlebury College Dean of International Programs Jeff Cason, if they learn one of the many local languages — there are about 240 ethnic groups with as many distinct languages and dialects — they may speak that as well.
Cason and others at Middlebury were drawn to Cameroon for several reasons. Along with its many ethnic groups, Cameroon, the second largest nation in central Africa, offers all the major climates and landscapes of the continent in one country, from beaches, deserts and grasslands to mountains and rainforests. “Among nations in Francophone Africa, Cameroon provides a great deal of cultural and ecological diversity,” he said.
“As Cameroon’s economic and political capital, Yaoundé is an ideal place for immersion into Francophone African life,” added Cason. Yaoundé, with a population of 1.5 million, is the country’s second largest city after Douala.
“We’ve been contemplating a program in sub-Saharan Africa for some time and our African studies faculty are strongly behind it,” said Middlebury College Vice President of Language Schools, Schools Abroad and Graduate Programs Michael Geisler. “UCAC, which has 4,000 students, is an excellent location since it has the best academic facilities of any university in Cameroon, as well as a strong faculty.”
The C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad have more than 50 years of experience in providing academically challenging immersion programs and, with the addition of the site in Cameroon, will operate programs in 38 cities and 16 countries. Students come from a wide range of academic fields and take courses in most disciplines, often alongside host-country students; intern or engage in volunteer work; and live with a family or local residents. At every juncture, students are encouraged to immerse themselves in the host culture.