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Narok, Nairobi, Kenya

Program Description

This summer study abroad program is designed for those exploring all levels of education as well as those seeking immersive cross-cultural experiences. We will be located primarily at Nasaruni Academy, a campus of 200 Maasai girls where we will be staying in the Madison Camp-Kenya (safari-type tent accommodations) adjacent to the school. There you will build relationships as you engage with the teachers and students both casually in a game of soccer or making bracelets, as well as more formally assisting in the classroom. You will have opportunities to experience the welcoming culture and traditions of the Maasai, as a learner and guest rather than a tourist. Together we will embrace our shared similarities and celebrate our unique stories together.

During our unforgettable visit, we will explore the many communities of Kenya—from cosmopolitan Nairobi to rural Narok, along with an overnight safari at Maasai Mara game reserve. Students wishing to pursue other interests such as health sciences, social justice, social entrepreneurship, NGOs, finance, art/art education, occupational therapy, engineering, conservation, drama, or environmental issues are welcome to apply and talk with the director about special projects.

This experience will include predeparture meetings focused on getting to know one another and self-reflection of one’s own worldview. Some early meetings will be informal and helpful to orient you about the experience. In the month prior to leaving, we will then have about four formal classes (online in the evening hours) where you will have some background reading requirements. Focus during these sessions will be on training in cross-cultural communication and awareness. We will also prepare for our contributions with teaching and assessing literacy in the school setting. More cultural preparation will help you give and get the most from the experience.
Most of the academic work will occur prior to going abroad so that there you can focus on the experience fully. However, upon arrival in Nairobi, we will have an intensive orientation with guest lecturer and some language exposure. We plan to visit the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi as well as a wildlife conservation organization. Once onsite at Madison Camp-Kenya, we will have nightly debriefing and reflection sessions.

Location Description

Kenya is a land of contrasts, from cosmopolitan Nairobi to rural villages. While Nairobi is green and lush, the land further south becomes semi-arid and drier. Driving to Narok from Nairobi, you will witness the changing landscapes and livelihoods. The many indigenous people groups in Kenya give it a unique expression and experience of diversity which expands our own thinking. Kenya is actively pursuing a unified Kenyan culture while respecting the diversity of its peoples and heritage. All of these movements and challenges are complex and promote deep thought and inquiry. We will take opportunity to hear our hosts’ perspectives and others to gain deeper insight and greater global awareness.

Geographically, Kenya has unique qualities we will explore such as the Great Rift Valley which is visible from outer space. The weather in Kenya is very pleasant, and cools down well in the evenings and mornings. The May/June visit is likely to have some rain (which keeps down the dust) and coolness.


Michelle Cude | | MSME


Accommodations will be largely at Madison Camp-Kenya where you will stay in a large tent with possibly 4-6 other students. You will have a mattress on a twin bedframe, some personal space for your belongings, and share a shower/bathroom facility nearby. For Americans, they may resemble camping experiences. The outdoor connection to the environment is all a part of the experience. You will live in community, eat in community, and also have some times for solitude and reflection, as well as work and play with the students and school staff.

Most all meals are inclusive in the program fee. They will vary from new dishes similar to local cuisine, and hearty meals you are more used to. The Maasai enjoy meat, but other diets can be accommodated with advance notice. You will have a few excursions for shopping and museums. You will have opportunities to buy extra snacks and food you are likely familiar with at larger shops nearby. Almost anything you need is available in Narok. We have plenty of clean, bottled water available. Masala chai is not to be missed!

Additional Items to Consider

Immunizations are required. We follow the current CDC guidelines. We will talk more about this in pre-departure meetings. Students must visit the Department of State link for travelers to Kenya.

Visa is required (cost $50) and available for purchase online. Further complete information about requirements will be given to participants.

Course work required pre-program. 

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Open to Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, and Graduate Students.

Open to all majors

Adventurous spirit, flexibility, good-natured, social justice-oriented, open to build relationships with people of varied ages and backgrounds, ready to marvel at the amazing gifts of Africa.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay
  • Academic References
  • Interview with Program Director required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


EDUC 490: Special Topics in Education: Exploring Poverty and Culture within a Cross-Cultural Educational Field Experience (3 credits)

EDUC 501: Special Topics in Education: Exploring Poverty and Culture within a Cross-Cultural Educational Field Experience (3 credits)

EXED 501: Special Topics in Education: Exploring Current Issues through Cross-Cultural Field Experience (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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