The Bowie State University College of Business is instituting the first study abroad program to Ethiopia by a University System of Maryland Institution in January 2011, according to a press release issued by the Prince George’s County school. The trip will incorporate visits to private business firms, government agencies, the headquarters of the African Union (AU), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and attend a series of lectures at Addis Ababa University.

Students will also visit historic sites and participate in a uniquely Ethiopian holiday, the Epiphany. The 10 undergraduate students and three faculty members, including co-director Dr. Granville Sawyer and outreach coordinator Dr. Regina Tawah, will spend 12 days in Ethiopia.

The program, funded by Title VI of the U.S. Department of Education, was developed to initiate and enhance student and faculty awareness of business opportunities in Ethiopia, considered by many as gateway to sub-Saharan Africa.

To qualify for the program, students met a list of criteria including minimum GPA, a competitively graded two-page essay, as well as attendance at pre-trip orientations seminars.

“This study abroad program is one of its kind in the region and we look forward to introducing our students to the unique cultural experience of Ethiopia, the world’s oldest independent nation and the birth place of humanity,” said Fiseha Eshete, co-director and study abroad coordinator for the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, in a statement. “Students will have the opportunity to experience international business practices and to communicate in Amharic, an African business language, which will be offered as a humanities elective beginning fall 2011.”

The grant, made possible by the U.S. Department of Education International Business Education Program, will cover approximately 80 percent of the costs associated with the study abroad program. The two-year grant was awarded to the College of Business in July 2010 for a total of $340,000, including a match from the university.

“Study abroad programs provide students with a unique opportunity to develop international skills and enhance cultural awareness,” said Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Johnson Shaheed in a prepared statement. “The University is proud to offer students the chance to study in Ethiopia and we plan to continue expanding our study abroad and international programs as we move forward.”

Students participating in the study abroad program are scheduled to arrive in Ethiopia on Jan. 8 and return to the United States on Jan. 20.