SJU launches Discover the World: Africa

The latest study abroad program, Discover the World: Africa, launched its first stage last week, coinciding with the beginning of the Fall semester at St. John’s University.

This program, which is the newest in the Discover the World series, allows students to spend a semester in three different countries.

Students will visit New York City, Rome, and finally Cameroon, over the course of the fall semester.

Senior Ubah Hamud, who was born in Africa, sees this trip as a way to rediscover her heritage.

“I am really excited to embark on this once in a lifetime journey, and grateful that St. John’s gave us this opportunity,” she said. “I mean, how cool is this? Going to Africa and paying nothing more then you would if you were attending school here in Queens!” The seven students enrolled in the program will spend three weeks taking courses in African Studies in New York City, where they will learn about history, anthropology, government, and languages. Students also have the opportunity to learn the Bamum language, which is the native language of the Foumban Kingdom of Cameroon. The Bamum are a group of people who have lived in Cameroon for centuries.

Bamum, which will be taught by Dr. Abdoulaye Laziz Nchare, a native from the Foumban Kingdom, has never been taught on the collegiate level before.

“We not only get the chance to visit this amazing country,” said Hamud, “but we are amongst the only students being taught the language of Shupamom.” She explained, “Not even the indigenous people from Cameroon are formally taught this language.”

After leaving New York, the students will visit Rome, where they will learn about European art, languages, and culture.
The students will leave on November 3 for Cameroon, a nation in West Africa, bordering countries such as Nigeria and Chad, and known for its culture and diversity.

While in Cameroon, students will serve the community in addition to completing six credits at the University of Buea. St. John’s University will work alongside the Congregation of the Mission and Daughters of Charity by helping agricultural and educational work.

“Our students will combine courses and independent research on subjects such as literacy, healthcare, and economics, with positive community engagement in those fields,” said Dr. Konrad Tuchscherer, director of Africana studies at St. John’s and the Africa program coordinator. “Students learn inside and outside the classroom, where they also serve.”

Tuchscherer, a Fullbright Scholar, has worked extensively to preserve ancient documents and promote literacy among youth.
Traveling to the Bamum Kingdom frequently, Tuchscherer spent 2006 living and researching there and was awarded the title of “Nji” which means “Master.” He was awarded this title by the King of Bamum, El Hadj Sultan Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya, for his devotion and efforts.

For the service learning component of the program, students will be able to pick from one of three projects that are specifically designed for St. John’s University.

The projects are interactive and will all take place in the Royal Palace of Bamum Kings, located in Foumban. Students can choose to work in the palace’s archives where they document early African writing, a radio station where they can design radio programs, or in the Bamum Culture House where they will help teach English and AIDS awareness.

“This program is perfect for me because it gives me the opportunity to be able to go to the continent I wish to do my life’s journalism work on, as well as allowing me to finish my credits toward my Africana Studies minor,” said Sarah Armaghan, who is enrolled in the program.