The Mali Externship Program

Since its conception at Montana State University in 1999, tens of thousands of US students, faculty, and community members have gained awareness of subsistence farming life in a material-resource poor, culturally-rich country. Mali Externships, and the idea of exploring Africa by going there, or just by campus opportunities: discussion groups, readings, and presentations, is moving across campuses. From coast-to-coast and several points in between, Africa's cultural wealth with its lessons for the rest of the world are the core of raised student / faculty cultural awareness.

Africa's perplexing lack of economic / agricultural development in a Western sense now challenges the same student / faculty groups to critically evaluate foreign aid. An outcome of this project has been that students in non-agricultural majors (engineering, biology, geography, music, business, French, and media and theater arts) all pursued agricultural topics in their USDA externship research and chose to continue in agriculture after graduation. Over 120 Mali externs, from Virginia Tech to two University of California campuses (Davis and Riverside), from a tribal college to an urban, service-based, private university, have gained confidence in cross-cultural skills, designing research, and giving professional presentations.