ACES Agribusiness and International Development

Program Description:

First Steps Info Session/Videos

When students begin thinking about studying abroad, it’s important that they review all of their resources to help them informed decisions. What kind of housing would you like? How long would you like to go for? What region of the world is tempting you? What kind of on-site support will you need? All this and more can be found by following steps 1-4 on the Getting Started Link to make sure BEP Leeds is the right program for you (
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Program Overview

SierraLeone Semester Flier 2 small.pdf

The Agribusiness and Development Semester Abroad Program is the opportunity of a lifetime for students to learn about agriculture and economic development while experiencing and living amongst rich West African culture.  The program is part of a historical collaborative effort between the University of Illinois and the Njala University in Sierra Leone and some courses will include Njala University’s Agribusiness Management honors students.  It will provide experiential learning in the areas of agribusiness, development and culture with coursework and practicums led by faculty from both Universities.
The coursework is designed to enhance your experience of living in Sierra Leone, providing both theoretical and practical insight to assist you in making sense the complexities surrounding agriculture and development in a West African context. All of the program courses have direct equivalents to courses taught at UIUC Departments and all of the courses are pre-approved for UIUC credit at varying levels.  Classes would be delivered and scheduled in such a way to ensure that you are given an opportunity to go on field trips which will expose you to different parts Sierra Leone and provide first-hand exposure to many of the topics covered in class. Courses will run in three to four week modules, while taking part in practical outside-the-classroom learning experiences.

In addition to completing these modules, you will be placed in groups with Njala students to participate in a service learning project which will run for most of the semester. The course is designed to meet the requirements of ENG 315. The project is to be determined but could include, developing and running a microenterprise farm or doing an assessment of post-harvest practices of rural farmers.
At the end of your time you will complete a six-week internship. Students will be placed either with a commercial agribusiness, an agribusiness-related NGO or an Agro-Business Center (Farmer Cooperative). These internships afford you the opportunity to apply some of the concepts learned from the coursework to a real life setting.
Courses will cover topics in agribusiness management and economic development, and will be taught by faculty or academic professionals from University of Illinois (or another US University) and faculty from Njala University. Courses will be selected form the following:

sierraleone• Agriculture in International Development (UIUC)
• Management of Farm Enterprise (UIUC)
• Global Agribusiness Management (UIUC)
• Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (UIUC)
• Consumer Behavior (UIUC)
• Social Science Research Methods (NU)
• Agricultural Marketing (NU)
• West African Farming Systems
• History, Development and Culture of Sierra Leone
• Executive in Residence Course (based on ACE 138)

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The City of Freetown

Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone. It is a major port city in the Atlantic Ocean and is located in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. Freetown is Sierra Leone's major urban, economic, financial, cultural, educational and political center. The city proper had a population of 772,873 at the 2004 census,[1] As of 2010, the population of Freetown is estimated at 1.2 million. The city's economy revolves largely around its harbor - occupying a part of the estuary of the Sierra Leone River in one of the world's largest natural deep water harbours.
As the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown is home to the Sierra Leone House of Parliament, the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone and the State House, the official workplace of the President of Sierra Leone. All of the foreign embassies in Sierra Leone are based in the city.
Freetown is one of Sierra Leone's six municipalities and is locally governed by a directly elected city council, headed by a mayor. The mayor and members of the Freetown city council are directly elected every four years by the residents of Freetown. The municipality of Freetown is politically divided into three regions: East End Freetown, Central Freetown, and West End Freetown, which are subdivided into wards.
The population of Freetown is ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse among Muslims and Christians. The city is home to a large population of all of the country's ethnic groups, with no single ethnic group forming a majority. As in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone, the Krio language is the city's primary language of communication and is by far the most widely spoken language in the city.
The city of Freetown was founded in 1792 by Abolitionist John Clarkson as a land for freed African American slaves, called the Nova Scotian who had fought on the side with British during the American Revolutionary War. The settlers called their new settlement Freetown, as a land for freed slaves. Around 500 Freed Jamaican slaves made the journey to Freetown in 1800 through the Sierra Leone Company. During the next decades, thousands of freed African American, West Indian and Liberated Africans came to Freetown as settlers, through the Sierra Leone Company. Their descendants are known today as the Sierra Leone Creole people.
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Academic Environment

Where you will study
Njala University was established in 1964 with assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the University of Illinois. Njala University College was moved from rural Njala to urban Freetown in 1994. The University has responded well to the challenges that it faces, and has grown to become among the leading Universities in Sierra Leone.
As a study abroad participant through a University of Illinois approved program, once you are accepted, you will be required to go through a Course Approval Process, during which the courses you plan on taking abroad will be evaluated by a 299 Advisor
for Illinois credit (that can then be used to fulfill major, minor, general education, or elective credit). Details about this process will be provided once you are accepted to a program.
The official language of Sierra Leone is English. Other major languages include, Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north) and Krio, an English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area.
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You will be staying in student housing with students from Njala’s Agribusiness honors program.  Meals will be provided by staff from the Njala University Guest House.


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Program Cost and Advance Fees

For an Unofficial Budget of this program, please scroll to the top of this page and find the box labeled “Budget Sheets,” and click on the semester during which you want to participate. Please read through the Unofficial Budget information, which also includes information on Financial Aid, and Scholarships. All students should be aware that once they are accepted to a program, they will be charged a non-refundable $305 fee to reserve their place on the program.
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Financial Aid and Scholarships

Because this program is sponsored by the University of Illinois, financial aid can be applied to the cost of the program. The amount of financial aid that is applicable to study abroad will depend on your financial aid package. Since there are many variables that determine how your financial aid package applies to study abroad, it is best that you consult with a financial aid advisor in the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss your individual financial aid package. 
Eligible students may receive additional scholarships toward the program cost.  The amount varies depending on the program destination.  Scholarship amounts are announced when program fees for each program are announced.  Non-ACES students should contact their college about scholarship opportunities.  All participants should also apply for the Illinois for Illinois (I4I) Study Abroad Undergraduate Scholarship. For more information, click here
ACES Students are eligible for additional funding through their college. More information about ACES scholarships including the application can be found here:
For more information about general costs, please watch the First Steps Cost, Financial Aid, and Scholarship videos found here for tips and advice:
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Withdrawal, Change, and Cancellation Policy

To withdraw, change, or cancel your participation in a study abroad program, please visit this link to view the Withdrawal and Refund Policy (
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Health, Safety, Pre-Departure

Health and Safety of our students while in Sierra Leone is an important concern to us. Students with serious medical conditions should review the following statement from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) before applying to the program.

Medical facilities in Sierra Leone fall critically short of U.S. standards.  People with serious medical conditions that require medications or frequent treatment are discouraged from traveling to Sierra Leone.  Most medications are in short supply, of inferior quality, or are fraudulent.  The cleanliness of medical facilities and quality of treatment is dismal.  Misdiagnosis, unavailable treatment, and improper use of drugs are commonly reported.
All travelers to Sierra Leone are advised to purchase insurance to cover medical evacuation in case of a serious accident, injury, or illness.*  Medical evacuation can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the situation, so all travelers should ensure their policies provide sufficient coverage.  Travelers are advised to see a physician prior to travelling to ensure that appropriate immunizations and precautions are taken, including medications for malaria prophylaxis and yellow fever vaccination (which is required for entry into the country).  Please refer to the Center for Disease Control’s website ( for recommendations specific to Sierra Leone.

*University of Illinois students who participate on this program will automatically be enrolled in medical insurance to cover medical evacuation under our CISI group policy.

Medical Facilities in Sierra Leone:

Choithram Memorial Hospital: 076-623-483
Emergency Hospital Goderich: 076-611-386
Davidson Nicol Medical Centre: 076-977-028
The Consular Section maintains a more complete list of medical contacts at
The health and safety of students abroad is something that the University of Illinois takes very seriously, which is why the Study Abroad Office provides services that range from international insurance coverage to a 24-hour phone line to speak to an Advisor on Duty. These services can be found on our website:

Pre-Departure Orientation
All students are required to attend an all-day Pre-Departure Orientation the semester before their term abroad. The exact date, time, and location will be given to students post-acceptance so that they can arrange for their attendance at this orientation. During this orientation, topics such as Culture Shock, health and safety scenarios, and other helpful pre-departure information will be presented. This is also a really great opportunity to talk about packing, meet other classmates on a program, and talk to returnees who have already been to the host country.
Additionally, students are required to sign off on a Health and Safety Orientation , and are encouraged to read through the Safety and Security section of our website which includes topics from road safety and keeping your valuables and money safe, to nontraditional student identities while abroad.  This link includes information on our 24-hour Emergency service, Health Matters, Insurance, and Safety and Security


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Application Process

To participate in the program you must be a UIUC sophomore, junior, or senior with a GPA of at least 2.5. This program is open to students of all backgrounds and will most appeal to students with interests in these areas:

African Studies
Agricultural and Consumer Economics
Business Administration
Global Studies
Natural Resource and Environmental Science
Political Science

Dates and Deadlines
All requirements must be completed by the Study Abroad Office deadlines: online materials are due by 11:59 PM on the deadline date; paper materials are due by 4:45 PM the following business day. Preference will be given to students applying by the priority deadlines.
Spring Semester Program
Priority Deadline: September 15
Final Deadline: October 15
How to Apply 
Please click the Create App button (found at the top-right of this page) to apply. Note that you will be charged a non-refundable $25 application fee by clicking Create App and logging in.
The Njala University Program Application requires:
• Official transcript
• 1 letter of recommendation (must be from an academic advisor, TA, or professor; does not need to be from a Spanish instructor)
• Personal essay
• Photocopy of passport
• 2 personal photos passport sized
• Signature Verification Form
• Online questionnaires
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You must have a valid passport to participate on this program. If you do not already have a passport, or if it needs to be renewed, you must begin that process now, even before program acceptance. 
You may also be required to get a visa for your program.  Please consult the host country’s consulate website or a visa agency to determine whether or not a visa is required to travel to your destination country or countries. (
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Additional Program Resources

Before You Leave
The “Before You Leave” section on our website provides you with information on what to pack, money abroad, transportation, communicating with family members while abroad, and even what to do the day of your departure. (
Additional Information
Njala University

US State Department Info on Sierra Leone
Lonely Planet Info on Sierra Leone
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Contact Information
Study Abroad Office (SAO)
910 South Fifth Street
112 International Studies Building
Champaign, IL 61820
Hours of operation: Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:45pm. 

UIUC Faculty Leaders to Sierra Leone
Paul E. McNamara,
or Oliver Ferguson,

ACES Study Abroad Office
Contact: Meredith Blumthal
Director of Education Abroad Programs for the College of ACES
123 Mumford Hall

File type pdf icon Sierra Leone Semester Flier 2 small.pdf372.66 KB