By Maxime Devillaz
A new, three-credit elec- tive course will be offered during the summer of 2015, giving Post students a combination of theoreti- cal classroom sessions and practi- cal field excursions while traveling through the savanna ecosystem of northern Tanzania. The two-week trip, running from May 31 through June 14, will be open to undergrad- uate and graduate students from all LIU campuses.
The course instructor, Dr. Mark Pires, is a professor of Geography and former academic director of the School for International Training in Cameroon. Pires has previously offered study abroad programs, including summer travel courses for LIU to Kenya and Senegal. “My first experience ever in Africa took place when I was an exchange student [in] Kenya during my undergraduate years,” Pires said. “That experience led to what became a lifelong interest and commitment to learning and teaching about this part of the world.”
Students will analyze the complexity of the region caused by an overwhelming nature- related tourism, and the different stakeholders’ interest in its beauty. “This new success poses some big challenges to making sure that the boom in tourism is ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable for the long term,” Pires said.
During the time abroad, students will visit a Maasai community development project, take a four-day field trip at the Lake Manyara National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, and hike at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Pires is aware that two weeks is a short period of time to grasp the complexity of Tanzania, but he is hoping that students will bring back more in their educational portfolios than prior to leaving. “I hope to help students recognize, and chip away at some of the persistent myths and stereotypes many people tend to hold about Africa,” he said. He explained that former students’ lack of knowledge in geography would sometimes make him laugh. “I often joke with students in my introductory geography courses that if they learn nothing else from me all semester, they must walk away knowing that Africa is a continent and not a country!” Pires added.
“I am culturally an extremely open person, and believe [that] traveling [is] the most important school,” said Carolin Rademacher, a senior Psychology and Business major. “I would most definitely want to be part of that experience.”
Rademacher described her recent solo trip to Indonesia as eye opening, and would want more students to experience what she did, drawing some similarities to the study abroad trip. “Tanzania would give students the opportunity to broaden their horizons and get a better understanding of the world, as well as giving them the chance to see the influence each individual has on this planet.”
Some students may feel worried about the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, but Pires reassured them that health comes first always. “Whether on campus or on a study abroad program, concern for student health and safety is of primary importance,” Pires said. He also stated that the Ebola virus will continue to be monitored before May 31.
Rademacher, though, was undeterred. “I wouldn’t be scared of Ebola,” she said. “Of course it is nothing to joke about, but it has been around for a very long time,” she continued. Rademacher blamed the mass media for playing an essential role in the hype of the virus.
Sophomore Health Science major Holly Azueta, aware of the current safety reports, stated, “At the moment, I would not be afraid of traveling to Tanzania because there are no reported cases of Ebola there.”
Pires stated that the trip would be subject to reconsideration if there are any new outbreaks that would jeopardize the health and safety of students participating in the course. Regardless, Pires warned of the moderately strenuous activities, such as hiking, that the trip entails. Good personal fitness is significant for students participating.
The estimated cost for the two-week program is $6,090 for undergraduate students, and $6,396 for graduate students. It includes LIU tuition ($3,090/$3,396); a course travel fee of $1,500 to cover in-country meals, lodging, transportation, and program activities; and airfare (estimated $1,500) from New York, according to Pires. For more information on how to register, contact Mark Pires at Mark.Pires@liu. edu.
*The cost for airfare is subject to change based on the fare applicable at time of booking. The above program costs do not include: recommended vaccinations, Tanzania tourist visa ($100), student health insurance fee, travel to and from New York airport, optional airfare cancellation, or personal spending money in Tanzania.