The program lasts 15 weeks. The first 6 weeks will be dedicated to the academic courses. You will attend classes and immerse yourself in Siena’s fascinating, ancient culture, surrounded by a medieval landscape. While in Siena, you will also be exposed to Siena Italian Studies’ unique, intercultural approach to education that will prepare you for an incredibly distinctive opportunity for service in Yaoundé, Cameroon.


The courses that you will be taking in Siena during the first 6 weeks are:

  • NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development): New Ways to Define Development in Africa 
  • Intercultural Communication and Studies 
  • European Development Policy: a European Perspective on International Engagement
  • Human Rights
  • Italian and French Courses: Survival Italian and Intensive French
  • Reflective Writing and Service

All the course descriptions can be found at the bottom of this page

Service Projects in Yaoundé

  • REPCAM: REPCAM is an NGO founded in 2006 with the objectives of: providing social and psychological support to children of incarcerated parents, supporting pregnant inmates, raising funds to meet the immediate needs of children and women (REPCAM – RELAIS ENFANTS-PARENTS DU CAMEROUN).
  • FOCEP – Le Fonds Camerounais d’Epargne: Microfinance institution, providing financial services to unemployed or low-income individuals or groups who otherwise would have no other chance to access them.
  • CCA Credit Communautaire d’Afrique: CCA Bank in its capacity as a universal Bank will observe a follow up of its mission of financial inclusion through financing that is adapted to the Cameroonian Economy. This will involve collecting savings, granting credit, offering and managing means of payment as part of a special relationship with its customers, mainly individuals, SMEs and large companies.
  • Complexe Scolaire Wache  (primary and secondary school): Students will likely be involved in English classes, among other activities.
  • Le service des étudiants et de la coopération du RUPA (Réseau Universités Protestantes de l’Afrique Centrale): The Network of Protestant Universities of Africa (RUPA) has its headquarters in Yaoundé. This Network puts students in contact with different collaborating faculties with the the Protestant Universities of the following countries: DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Benin member of this network.
  • B&K Language Institute (and Library): Library and centre for foreign languages and translation . Their aim is to educate the young generation mostly in linguistics, by offering courses in FRENCH, ENGLISH, ITALIAN and GERMAN.

Tasks may vary depending on the time of year but examples of what students will be involved in include: fundraising, event planning and facilitation, educational outreach activities, and more.

Host Families in Siena and Yaoundé

We believe that there is no better way to experience local culture than living with locals.  Students will experience diversity in many ways, including exposure to daily life in both Italian and Cameroonian families.   Host families also represent an important element in ensuring the personal safety of all of our students.  We carefully select host families so that students will have local experts to help them navigate the cities and the culture.

Upcoming Program dates:

  • Spring 2020

     Sunday, January 12th – Sunday, May 3rd

  • Fall 2020

    Sunday, September 6th – Sunday, December 20th

Contact us for more information at info@sienaitalianstudies.com

Course Descriptions

  • NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development): New Ways to Define Development in Africa

    (45 total contact hours) The definition of development in Africa has always be controversial since two different points of view have been playing a major role in defining it: the Western and the African points of view. From the Western perspective development in Africa has been defined as “a process of catch-up”, the so-called “imitation process” whereby the Africans should see at the industrialized countries as an example of development that has to be reached, without considering different aspects of African societies. On the other hand, from the African perspective, most African post-independence intellectuals have been trying to define development in different terms like “African socialism” and “ujamaa”, a society based on mutual assistance. African post-independence leaders and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) have been playing a very important role to free African countries from colonialism and build a free continent based on African values through different organizations: thus different groups were created to foster development in Africa. The aim of this course is therefore to highlight NEPAD, “New Partnership for Africa’s Development” together with other different initiatives to build Africa and create a new vision of its development. In the course we will discuss how the African post-independence leaders have been struggling to define the concept of development, to transform the objectives of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) “from free Africa” to New African Initiative and lastly to NEPAD in 2011. Students will also briefly study the history of African and European relations and the current EU policies towards African countries. This course is mandatory for all students who are going to Yaounde after the 6 weeks.

  • Intercultural Communication and Studies

    (45 total contact hours) The objective of this course is to give students a wide overview upon multiculturalism, intercultural competencies and their related dimensions and aspects while providing them with the appropriate critical tools; its main goal is to train professionals endowed with a proper intercultural sensitivity and an attitude to reflect upon intercultural issues. This course is mandatory for all multi destination students (Siena – Brussels or Siena – Yaoundé).

  • Reflective Writing

    Our educational approach includes Reflective Writing, a structured and guided reflection course. All students who come to Siena Italian Studies are required to follow Reflective Writing. To read more about it click here. Reflective Writing will start during the 6 weeks in Siena and it is the only course which will also continue during the 8 weeks in our Francophone destinations. The reflection is in fact highly related to the the Service-Learning approach since it helps to go deeper in the full immersion experience and it has to be both preparatory for the Service Learning experience that awaits our students in Brussels or Yaounde, and parallel to it during their internships, shadowing or community service abroad. This course is mandatory for all multi destination students (Siena – Brussels or Siena – Yaounde). The credits that students will receive for it will be coupled to the community service or internship they will be doing in Brussels / Yaounde.

  • Inventing Human Rights

    (45 total contact hours) This course analyzes the international and domestic laws and institutions that protect the fundamental rights of all human beings. The course also describes and evaluates the principal mechanisms and strategies for holding governments accountable for violating those rights. Students will engage with thought-provoking issues that arise at the intersection of human dignity, state sovereignty, and international justice. Students will also learn about the international, national and regional mechanisms for monitoring government conduct and redressing violations of human rights, as the ones put in practice by the United Nations. The course is intended for anyone interested in learning about human rights. No prior knowledge of law, international relations or human rights is required, although the course will be of interest to those who have studied in these areas. This course is optional for all multi destination students (Siena – Brussels or Siena – Yaounde). Students going to Yaounde are required to choose between this course and European Development Policy: a European Perspective on International Engagement.

  • European Development Policy: a European Perspective on International Engagement

    (45 total contact hours) The course is aimed at offering students a wide overview on the evolution of the European relationships with the developing countries, from the Eurocentric colonial past to the current international relations with these countries. Attention will be focused on the European Union’s institutional setup, presence in the international scenario and external policies. A specific concentration will be devoted to the EU Development Policy. Its instruments and objectives will be analyzed as well as the complementarity between the activities of the Member States and those of the EU, and the coordination and coherence with the other fields of action having an impact on developing countries, such as security, agriculture, international trade and migration. This course is optional for students who are going to Yaounde after the 6 weeks. Considering that our students go to Cameroon through Europe and not directly from their homelands, we believe that EU Development can also be preparatory since it introduces the European point of view on African societies and development.   This course is optional for students who are going to Yaounde after the 6 weeks. Students going to Yaounde are required to choose between this course and Inventing Human Rights.

  • Italian and French Courses: Survival Italian and Intensive French

    (15 total contact hours of Italian + 45 total contact hours of French) Language skills are crucial to the understanding of European diversity and students will have the opportunity to develop language skills in both Italian and French while on the program. The study of both languages is mandatory for multi destination students. At the beginning of the 6 weeks in Siena students will study the Italian language. The course, called Survival Italian, is aimed at providing them with the basic elements of the language that can help them communicate during their stay in Siena. Its main goal is thus to give students a satisfactory first introduction to Italian. Students will also follow an intensive course of French dedicated to acquisition of the language for the entire duration of the 6 weeks. This course provides students with the basic knowledge of language and culture so that they can manage everyday life communication. Students will be taught common expressions, vocabulary, phrases and communicative chunks and the activities in class will seek to quickly get the basics and/or refine pre-acquired knowledge and skills in French. Teachers will also provide cultural knowledge through the use of French movies, the reading of French authors and the exploitation of authentic materials available online. The major goal of these two language courses is to invite students to reflect on the importance that multilingualism represents in Europe and in the European institutions and organizations. In other words, we want our students to identify with the philosophy and approach that lie at the heart of the European Union. Please note that no prior knowledge is required to participate in these courses.