St. Lawrence University

Rooted in Place: Capturing The St. Lawrence Kenya Connection 1972-present

Documenting the St. Lawrence Connection with Kenya

Efforts are underway to gather key documents and a range of program ephemera and digitize them for preservation purposes. These include mission statements and annual reports, program brochures and promotional material and other documents that chart the institutional history of the program. Useful to researchers examining the history of study abroad programs more generally, these documents provide important insight into how the KSP evolved from 1972-present.In January 1972, St. Lawrence’s embarked on a pioneering trip to Kenya. Begun as a J-Term experiment, the St. Lawrence connection to East Africa evolved into the Kenya Semester Program (KSP) by 1974. From early origins as the Nairobi Semester, the program has grown into a truly East Africa semester.

Students today experience both the vibrant life of Kenya’s capital city as well as the regions diverse social and cultural landscape. From rural and urban homestays to field components across Kenya and northern Tanzania, the KSP introduces students to the culture and livelihood of African communities across the. The culmination of the semester evolved into the independent study, where students spend one month studying a diverse array of issues in not only Kenya but also Uganda, Tanzania and even Rwanda. Reflecting on over 40 years in East Africa offers an important chance to preserve the past and explore the evolution and impact of the program through the experiences of those who participated. With over 2000 alumni from more than 30 different universities the program has had a wide impact on both U.S. students and our Kenyan partners. Fostering mutually beneficial relationships has been an essential part of the program’s mission. Since the early 1980's full scholarships have been awarded each year to Kenyan students annually to attend with many returning “home,” with St. Lawrence degrees providing a pathway to leadership positions across the country. And since 1992, SLU has offered a two-year position as visiting Swahili instructor to Kenyans who are able either to conduct research towards a Ph.D. from a Kenyan university or to earn a master's degree from SLU. Alumni have also been at the heart of nurturing SLU’s deep engagement in Kenya, with many offering generous support for local development and educational projects across the country.

The following pages are a living attempt to document the depth and scope of the St. Lawrence Kenya connection. The collection is designed as both a living repository for student experiences and as a growing research collection to examine the long term impact of study abroad. As a digital archive we are always looking for new materials and perspectives to add to our collection.

Learn more about how you can donate photos, memories or other program memorabilia to the collection. We are actively seeking participation from Kenya Semester Program alumni and encourage you to be in touch directly.

Recent Additions

Kenya Semester Program

For nearly 40 years St. Lawrence has operated the Kenya semester program, making it one of the longest running U.S. study abroad programs on the African continent.

Based out of our SLU owned and operated campus in the suburbs of Nairobi, the Kenya program is rooted in this deep tradition and is committed to providing students with a unique study abroad experience. 

The Engaging Africa Initiative

St. Lawrence is embarking on an ambitious campaign to invest in Africa at SLU by creating a permanent restricted endowment called Engaging Africa which will offer annual support for our efforts moving forward. With a tradition of building mutually beneficial relationships with our African partners, we aim to expand opportunities for SLU students to engage with Africa through coursework, internships and research both on and off-campus. 

African Studies Program

The African Studies Program promotes an interdisciplinary study of the African continent and its peoples across the curriculum.

Through campus events, off-campus study and collaborative research students gain not only a rich understanding of the diversity of the African continent but also a capacity for examining contemporary and historic issues with a distinctive cross-cultural perspective.