Gondar, Ethiopia

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Given the growing spread of COVID-19, expanded travel restrictions aimed at containing the virus, and the general uncertainty regarding timelines for the lifting of travel restrictions, the School of Arts and Sciences has decided to suspend all Penn Summer Abroad programs for summer 2020.

Travel to Gondar, Ethiopia to collaborate with 2,000 Ethiopian Jewish children to make a film about their community. After a week of pre-departure training and context, we will spend two weeks in northern Ethiopia teaching filmmaking classes and working with a community that has been at the center of intense debates about migration for decades.

The running of this program is contingent upon grant funding. Students applying to this program should be aware that the program will not run unless this funding is secured. Students will be notified of the status of the funding as soon as possible. This will likely occur after the March 31 deadline.

This program is exclusively for Penn undergraduate students.

Applications open March 16, 2020
Application deadline March 31, 2020


Wednesday, May 20, 2020 through
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

One week of courses on campus

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Departure for Gondar

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Arrival in Gondar
Program housing first available

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Program housing last checkout date

All students register for a total of one course unit (c.u.)*. Course offerings are subject to change. Course registration is completed by the Penn Summer Abroad office for students who confirm their intent to enroll and submit required pre-departure documents.

Participatory Documentary Filmmaking

CIMS 439 (1 c.u.)

  • Fulfills requirements: Elective Cinema and Media Studies Major & Minor

This is a summer abroad program in northern Ethiopia. Students will partner with 2,000 Ethiopian Jewish children to document their everyday lives and religious practices with the ultimate goal of increasing knowledge about a community at the center of heated migration debates. We will learn the ethics and techniques of participatory documentary filmmaking, the history of the Ethiopian Jewish community, and the larger global migration crisis that affects them.

Students will stay at the Goha Hotel in Gondar. Most meals will be eaten at the hotel.

Tuition and fees are subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and may change without notice.

Tuition for 2020 will be posted in spring 2020. Please use the 2019 tuition cost listed below as a general estimate only.

  • Tuition for summer 2019: $4,392
  • Payment is due according to Penn’s Student Registration and Financial Services billing schedule.

The running of this program is contingent on grant funding. If funding is received, it will cover the following costs for students:

  • Flights
  • Accommodations in Ethiopia
  • Meals in Ethiopia
  • Transportation costs in Ethiopia

Students will be responsible for paying for the following costs:

  • Summer tuition for 1 c.u.
  • Housing and meals for the one week in which the course will be taught on campus (May 20-26, 2020)

Contact Information

For details about the program, courses, or location including academic advising, travel dates, housing, and orientation:

Peter Decherney

Program Director
Peter Decherney
Professor of English and Cinema & Media Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Tel: (215) 746-3156

For assistance with the application, financial questions, pre-departure, or other general information:

Fisher-Bennett Hall
Penn Summer Abroad Office
College of Liberal and Professional Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Fisher-Bennett Hall, Room 101
3340 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104-3335
Tel: (215) 898-7326

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

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3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326

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