We offer international internships for students interested in volunteering in Africa.  Common River is a “living university” for college students to gain hands-on experience doing field work in an African community field. Providing a grassroots, authentic village experience, students live in traditional mud huts in a remote village in the Southern lush coffee growing region of the Great Rift Valley. Common River can arrange for an extended study for 6 weeks, shorter 2 week programs or semester long stays. There are 5 major foci of study, which can be tailored to meet student’s academic needs across many majors:

Social entrepreneurship: (Majors: Economics, Finance, Int’l Business)
Small scale enterprise for women, micro-finance, coffee commodity/cooperatives, marketing, rising food prices, poverty reduction, product development

Public Health: (Majors: Biology, Pre-Med, Health Sciences, Nursing)
Water, sanitation, family planning, nutrition, clinical and community health, HIV/AIDS, malaria prevention, epidemiology, community surveys

Education: (Majors: Education, Physical Education)
Teacher training, elementary education, physical education, adult education

Environmental Stewardship: (Majors: Environmental Science, Sustainability, Earth Science)
Agriculture, irrigation, water and sanitation, alternative energy sources, biodiesel, solar, wind, biodiversity, environmental degradation, deforestation, irrigation, rainwater catchment, agriculture, animal husbandry

Cultural Heritage: (Majors: Anthropology, History, Religion, Geography, Political Science, Int’l Relations, Africana Studies, Security, Sociology)
Ethnographic studies of the local primitive Sidama tribe, architecture, language, arts, music, dance, demography, transportation, wild life, community development, the oldest religion in the world (Coptic Christianity), the lost tribe of Israel (Falesha), the Pentecostal movement, Islam, birthplace of mankind, Home of African Union.


1. Ashley N. Lackovich-Van Gorp,Phd.  Antioch University – PhD Program in Leadership and Change 2014   Positive Deviance and Child Marriage by Abduction in the Sidama Zone of Ethiopia

2. University of Texas, Health Science Center, San Antonio, has sent medical students every year since 2007 to gain experience in rural and emergency clinical care and public health.

    a) Maternal Health Care in Pre- and Post- “Red Terror” Populations in Rural Ethiopia (2010) Kathleen R. Gong, Joshua Essel, Myra Liu, Ann Lu, Wade Murray, Matthew Murrell, Edward Shipper, Nishina Thomas Attachment: MHS Poster mhsposter

    b) Ethiopia Outreach: Rural Medicine and Research Abroad (2012Kelsey Bryant, John Anhalt, Courtney Wiener, John Doehring, Bilal Dar, Allison Price  Attachment: Ethiopia Poster Submission ethiopia-poster-submission_final

c) Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Titira Region
Aleta Wondo, Ethiopia (2013) Report By: Kelsey Bryant John Anhalt Bilal Dar Courtney Wiener John Doehring  Attachment: WASH Final Paper wash-final-paper

d) Use of Traditional versus Allopathic Medicine in A Rural Ethiopian Town (2014) Evelyn Ashiofu, Katherine Berry, Patrick Butler, Robert Collins, Mia Gonzales, Matt Jacobs, Cameron Nichols, Nicholas Tsourmas, Christina Zink MD, and Chris McNeil MD  Attachment: Ethiopia Presentation 2014 AND Ethiopia Outreach Poster traditional-medicine-poster-2012

More Resources from UTHSCSA  Attachment: Ethiopia Presentation 2014 ethiopia-presentation-2014-compressed

2.  University of Wisconsin‘s undergraduate program in Global Health sent 7 students and 2 professors to Common River in June 2013.  The students were interdisciplinary with majors in Agricultural Economics, Biology/Pre-Med, Environmental Studies, and English. They focused on Sidama Foods and Gardening/Nutrition.   One botany student catalogued the medicinal plants that were on the campus and found that there was a plethora of species…a true medicine chest of herbal remedies.

a) Handbook of Sidama Traditional Medicial Plants (2013)

b) Alex Mcalvay University of Wisconsin–Madison (2013) Healthcare access and traditional medicine among the Sidama of Ethiopia

See the trip report: 2013-uw-common-river-trip-report_final

3. Colgate University, Donna’s alma mater, sent 10 pre-med undergraduates to volunteer on the health program in May 2014.  They set up a clinic combining first aid and traditional medicinal herbs.

4. ICS,  International Community School, a private high school in Addis Ababa, sends 60 juniors for a 3 day camping trip to the site each year.  They interacted with our students, teaching and playing, with both the primary students and female adult students (since 2014).

5. Jason Speaks, a Phd candidate of University of San Francisco in collaboration with University of California Berkeley and Awassa University conducted a research project on kitchen fire smoke.  They did a survey and placed smoke monitors in huts (2016).

6.  Nancy Beam, UCSF conducted her research and completed her PhD thesis on “Women and men’s preferences for delivery services in rural Ethiopia” (2016)

6. Anne Berit-Petersen, a researcher from Loma Linda University earned her PhD thesis on ” Factors associated with secondhand tobacco smoke in the home: a exploratory cross-sectional study among women in Aleta Wondo, Ethiopia” (2016)

7. Thea Astrid Hambleton, a student from Lund University , Sweden did her research on gender perceptions (2016). “What is a good man?
A qualitative field study of how hegemonic masculinity is changing and being maintained in relation to livelihood diversification, education and gendered division of labor in Southern Ethiopia”  Attached here: final-thesis-astrid

Individual students from the following universities have volunteered independently: Dartmouth, Univ. of Conn, NYU, Georgetown, Antioch, Univ. of Oregon, Univ. of Washington, Dickinson, Wake Forest, Univ. of Wisconsin,  St. Mary’s College

For more information about how to be an international intern or student volunteer for Common River, contact us today.