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June 21, 2018

CSU, Chico College of Business Hosts Student Leaders from West Africa for Five-Week Program

Student leaders from West Africa visit Chico State and pose for a photo.

Twenty university student leaders from five West African countries arrived at California State University, Chico on June 13 for a five-week long study of social entrepreneurship and to interact with the diverse facets of U.S. society and culture (see their pictures and profiles here). The students visiting are from Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

The five-week training program is themed “Going Lean: Applying Modern Approaches to Social Enterprise Development in Africa.” It is part of the Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which is designed to promote mutual understanding between people of the U.S. and people of other nations. 

“This is not only a great opportunity for our guests, but it is also a wonderful opportunity for Chico residents to meet and interact with these bright and energetic students,” said Curt DeBerg, the co-director of the program.

The students will attend seminars conducted by CSU, Chico professors and community business leaders. They will visit a number of facilities and organizations, such as Chico Idea Fab Labs and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. During the visit, the students will be active volunteers in a social enterprise in Chico, and they will prepare a business plan which is relevant to their professional interests. The students will also be active volunteers during July 4 activities at Bidwell Park.

DeBerg, a faculty member at Chico State, is also the faculty advisor of Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE). “Several of the SAGE students will participate,” DeBerg said. The Chico State students will escort the African students around Chico and campus and accompany them on trips to Mount Lassen and San Francisco.

After leaving California on July 10, the students will have shorter educational visits in Kansas City and Washington, D.C.  

The program’s goals are that the educators return home with added knowledge about the United States and develop greater cultural understanding about people from different parts of the world. In addition, the students will have the tools to be more active change-makers in their home communities.

According to DeBerg, programs such as these are crucial. “We are building bridges of understanding among countries, rather than building walls between them,” he said.

Study of the U.S. Institute participants are among over 40,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. They have funded and supported programs that seek to promote understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries for more than 60 years. For more information about ECA and SUSI programs, visit their website

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Curt DeBerg
Executive Director, SAGE
Professor, College of Business
California State University, Chico