Professor shares passion for Tanzania: Students to travel with faculty-led program

While most students will be spending this summer on the beach, working or taking classes at community college, nine students will be venturing to Tanzania for a five-week, faculty-led study abroad program.

On top of studying gender and development, students will be attending cultural events and performances, visiting cultural sites, taking cooking lessons and attending workshops, lectures and tours.

Throughout the trip, students will be staying in various places. From Kilimanjaro, to Zanzibar and Mikumi, they won’t be in one location for more than 10 days.

“Each location is very different in terms of languages and ethnic groups, food, art, culture and religion,” said Marla Jaksch, women’s and gender studies professor and faculty leader of this study abroad program.

Students will also be documenting women’s roles in the Tanzanian liberation movement and will be creating an online, interactive museum.

“I’ve done minimal traveling outside of the country and felt this was on opportunity to view the world from a different lens, to apply the critical thinking skills I’ve accumulated throughout college, and to broaden my understanding of the world,” said junior psychology and women’s and gender studies double major Alyssa Fountain.

Students will be working with many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Tanzania, according to junior women’s and gender studies major Shannon Grooms.

“I am most excited about the opportunity to experience Tanzanian culture and to meet new people,” Grooms said. “I’m also extremely excited to learn about the organizations we will be working for because I want to do NGO work upon graduation.”

Jaksch has been leading experimental trips to Tanzania since 2006 and she displays a passion for the culture. In fact, she travels there with her Tanzanian husband about twice a year.

“To be honest, my interest was in Rwanda initially but after taking Jaksch’s WGS 200 course, I was infected by her passion for Tanzania,” Grooms said.

In addition to studying and experiencing Tanzanian culture, many of the students are participating in this trip to either confirm or determine what academic route they’ll take in the future.

Fountain stated that she’s interested in pursuing higher degrees in public health, focusing specifically on maternal health. Grooms, on the other hand, is interested in joining the Peace Corps after graduation. For both students, however, the trip will determine whether or not they are on the right track for the future.

Yet they’re most excited to experience a drastically different culture first hand.

“My main reason for going is to be a student, to learn with an open mind and to expand my world view,” Fountain said. “I think I’ve learned enough about Western culture and history. It’s time for me to learn more about the parts of the world that have been essentially forgotten in my textbooks.”

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