About the Program
Based at Penn State Berks, Penn State's four-year degree program in Global Studies requires 3-9 credits of internship. As many of our students pursue careers in governmental and humanitarian agencies, finding appropriate internships is essential. As a result, the Global Studies program established contacts with the Association REFUGE pour les Enfants des Grands Lacs Africains (Children of the African Great Lakes), an agency which emerged from the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
However, from the beginning this program has been open to students in other majors and has included interns in Applied Psychology, Education, Occupational Therapy, and other majors including ones based at University Park and other campuses. Those participating in this unique opportunity earn credits in International Studies 495 (INTST495), while contributing significantly to a part of the world that has suffered greatly.
In 2006, 2008, and 2011 groups of students served as interns for one month at the Association's school at Kabuga east of the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Interns taught English, worked with pre-schoolers, ran sports programs, organized the school library, built a brick oven and volleyball court for the school and served as befrienders (which includes language teaching, shared work and mentoring). As a result of these positive experiences, Penn State's Education Abroad Advisory Committee approved this as an on-going university-wide program in 2008.
Until 2011, interns were accompanied by at least one faculty member and included a significant amount of group travel. These aspects will be eliminated from 2013 onwards, although travel opportunities and lessons in the local language, Kinyarwanda, will still be available. The reasons for these changes are to reduce costs to students, have internships available more frequently, and ensure that the focus of the program is on work rather than travel. All of this brings the PSU Rwandan internship program more in line with other internship opportunities.
To insure that this program is effective, applications are reviewed by a committee at Penn State Berks. Extensive preparatory sessions are required prior to departure. These include presentations on Rwandan history and culture, practical matters (including issues of health, safety, communications, money, etc.), and a counseling session with a psychologist. A follow-up counseling session is required following return to the USA. Interns are required to follow strict safety regulations and encouraged to reflect on the experience with others, particularly with the internship supervisor, Dr. Randall Fegley.
The deadline to apply for the program is November 1 in the year preceding the internship experience.
To apply, complete our online application for the Rwandan internship »