Faculty-led study abroad tours give students a glimpse of the world
By Kristi VanHerweg
Intern, WWU University Communications and Marketing
Courtney Hicks, a senior majoring in accounting, and Sandy Shamblin, a junior majoring in geography, were two of several students who explored Tanzania last summer on a faculty led program through Western’s Extended Education.
The 2013 Faculty-led study abroad tour to Tanzania includes an
eight-day camping safari. Photo by Tim Scharks
During their 19 days in East Africa, Hicks and Shamblin met Tanzanians in Moshi Town, played with children at the Make a Difference orphanage in Himo, and saw elephants, zebras, and lions while on safari.
The students earned Environmental Studies credits while visiting the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and exploring some of the world’s greatest national parks and protected areas like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.
The Tanzania program, led by Huxley College of the Environment Instructor Tim Scharks, is one of many faculty-led study abroad trips offered through Western’s Extended Education. Western faculty are taking students on study trips to China, South Africa, India, Italy and elsewhere this year.
Hicks said taking the trip to Tanzania was the best decision she’s made at Western.
“It gave me an appreciation for the simplest things I took for granted before, like clean water and hot showers,” said Hicks. “I came back thinking all the little everyday things that people let ruin their days, are absolutely pointless.”
For Shamblin, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It was an amazing experience that brought me to a country that I had known virtually nothing about,” she said. “Now I have made friends, met local Tanzanians and know about their history and culture.”
Scharks, the faculty leader of the Tanzania program, leads the students throughout the country to learn about the culture and economy.
“This program represents the opportunity for students to have the trip of a lifetime before they become busy with their careers,” Scharks said.
Hicks said the faculty-led programs for studying abroad are great because faculty do all the planning and students don’t have to worry about much.
Students on the 2012 faculty-led study abroad tour to
Tanzania hiked the Eastern Rift Valley in 2012, near the
peak of Oldoinyo Lengai. Photo by Tim Scharks
“Tim knows the area and the culture well, which made us all more comfortable,” Hicks said.
The faculty-led study abroad trips are designed to give students an interactive learning environment as well as unique lifetime experiences. For example, Tanzania program focuses on the effects of globalization and the way people perceive the Serengeti and nearby protected areas. Scharks also arranged the program to encourage students to consider how they observe themselves in the world, and the way they think about issues such as international development and preservation of natural areas.
The most important part of the trip for Hicks was visiting the orphanage in Himo. She will return to Tanzania for a six month internship in 2014 to work with the children who, she said, stole her heart last summer.
Like all of Westernís Extended Education programs, faculty-led study abroad trips are available to all students regardless of their major.
These programs are credited courses that can count towards a studentís major or elective credits. Programs range from two to 15 credits and many are open to community members.
Programs offered this summer as a part of Westernís Extended Education faculty led trips include:
- China: Culture, Community and Citizenship and Chinese Language and Cultural Studies
- Costa Rica: Rainforest Immersion and Conservation Action
- Greece: Applied Studies in Mediterranean Sustainable Development
- Guatemala: Building Cross-Cultural Connections
- India: Himalaya Cultures & Ecology Field Program in Ladakh
- Italy: Art Workshop, Tuscan Summer of Language and Culture, and Study Food in Florence
- Mexico: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Social Culture and Social Control in Santiago de Queretaro
- Paraguay: Culture and Language of Latin America
- Peru: Ecotourism and Community Development
- Rwanda: Building Bridges
- South Africa: Nongovernmental Organizations in Development
- Tanzania: Geography of Kilimanjaro
- San Francisco, Calif.: Exploring Great Cities