New program will take McMaster students to Africa for internships

The exterior of University Hall on McMaster's campus

The African Youth International Internship Project, a partnership between McMaster, Empowerment Squared and charitable organization Schools of Dreams, received $4.9 million in funding from Global Affairs Canada.

McMaster University is a partner in a new program that will provide support for our students and other youth from across Canada to go on internships in Liberia and Ghana.

The African Youth International Internship Project is a partnership between McMaster, Empowerment Squared (E2) and charitable organization Schools of Dreams.

The project is set to launch later this year and run until December 2027 after receiving $4.9 million in funding from Global Affairs Canada.

The project is one of six International Youth Internship Program projects aimed at giving 100 young people ages 18-30 in Canada the opportunity to gain international experience while focusing on gender-empowering educational research and inclusive growth, as well as climate change mitigation, adaptation and environmental research.

The program aims for 50 per cent of participating youth to come from equity-deserving groups, such as youth who are Black, Indigenous, recent immigrants, living in rural communities, 2SLGBTQAI+ and youth with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.

“Until now, student internship opportunities have not traditionally offered experiences in Africa, and that was a missed opportunity. To me, anyone left behind is knowledge left behind,” says Bonny Ibhawoh, vice-provost (International) and professor of Global Human Rights.

“I welcome this unique opportunity for McMaster students from underrepresented groups to gain a global perspective and to strengthen McMaster’s research and teaching agenda as well as that of the host educational institutions and community partners.”

McMaster’s Office of International Affairs is working with the Student Success Centre, the Black Student Success Centre and the African-Caribbean Faculty Association of McMaster University (ACFAM) to start promoting the internships and information on how eligible participants can apply will be released soon.

“Education and learning must transcend the walls of the classroom to be purposeful and connected to life and society,” says Leo Nupolu Johnson, executive director of Empowerment Squared.

“This transformational investment will help young adults of African descent prepare for the future by developing culturally relevant skills and education in international development responsive to the emerging needs of our world.”

As a partner in the project, McMaster will support the recruitment of interns by developing a recruitment plan, publicizing the internships, selecting candidates and developing the internships’ terms and conditions.

McMaster will also provide participants with pre-departure training and facilitate networking opportunities across Canada, including through outreach to Black youth.

The program is an excellent fit with McMaster’s values-based internationalization strategy, which is anchored on principles of global social responsibility.

“Schools of Dreams has fostered a connection between Canada and Ghana for several years with an emphasis on expanding educational opportunities,” says Barbara Anie, president of Schools of Dreams.

“We look forward to working with our project partners to establish impactful learning opportunities that connect young leaders in Canada to international issues and opportunities.”