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Kenya: Mombasa

Program closed starting Fall 2013. Please see a member of the Office of Study Abroad staff to discuss other program options in the region.

In Coastal East Africa, students can experience the rich maritime culture of Swahili communities, where the influence of recent migrations combines with the roots of a culture dating back as far as the 1st-century BC. The Kenya Islam and Swahili Cultural Identity Program of the School for International Training (SIT) offers the unique opportunity to study East African culture in a variety of locations. The program begins with homestays in the port city of Mombasa, where the 400-year-old great stone edifice of Fort Jesus watches over the bustling open-air market and coastline dotted with traditional wooden fishing boats. The group continues up the north coast to Malindi and finally to the island of Lamu, a pre-industrial Swahili community. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary study and intensive Swahili language instruction.


Fall semester: early September to mid-December.  Spring semester: early February to mid-May.

Fields of Study

East African coastal history, arts, anthropology, economic development, politics, religion.


7.5 GPA required. Pomona students are part of a competitive national pool. A college-level background course with African content is highly recommended. Students must submit a copy of a valid passport at the time of application.

Number of Students

3 or more. Total group approximately 20.

Academic Program

All subject courses are taught in English.  During the first 10 days of the program, the academic director and other contributors conduct an orientation to the program and to life in Kenya. After the initial orientation, the following components of the academic program begin: Swahili Intensive Language Study (1.5 credits); Islam and Swahili Cultural Identity Seminar (0.75 credit); Field Study Seminar (0.75 credits); and an Independent Study Project (ISP) (1.0 credit) which is supervised and evaluated by SIT faculty. 

Another important component of the Islam and Swahili Cultural Identity Program is the village stay. To gain direct knowledge of Kenyan rural development issues, students live for one to two weeks in a rural setting, participating, where possible, in a work project, such as helping build a school or hospital or assisting with water schemes. Also, the program generally includes a visit to nearby mainland Tanzania, the island of Zanzibar, or the nation of Oman to further study the history and culture of the Swahili people.

There is no P/NC option on this program.

Living Arrangements

Students live in a variety of accommodations, including hostels and homestays.

Faculty Liaison

Sid Lemelle

Internet Link

Study Abroad