Andrew Fabricant ’13  SIT Madagascar: National Identity and Social Change Program

When I began applying to study abroad programs spring semester of my sophomore year, I was immediately drawn to Madagascar: its rich biodiversity, complicated history with colonization, and unique geography all peaked my curiosity as important topics in the economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa. I hoped that by studying abroad in Madagascar I could develop my fieldwork skills while gaining insight into the factors that cause poverty and political instability. What I ended up getting from my experience in Madagascar was exactly that, and much more.
Through the SIT Madagascar: National Identity and Social Change Program, I studied the effects of urbanization, political instability, economic recession, and environmental degradation on the development of urban and rural communities in post-colonial Madagascar. I lived with five different host families in five different cities conducting fieldwork on various topics, including oil drilling, marriage, healthcare, and small business development. For the last month of my semester abroad, I conducted a case study assessing economic and political obstacles to the growth of artisan businesses in the capital city of Antananarivo. During this study I lived with a guitar-maker and his family and participated in their daily work routines. Through experiences such as this one, I got a glimpse of what it takes to live and work in a developing urban environment. My memories of Madagascar continue to shape my perspective on the processes that facilitate and hinder economic development.
During my time in Madagascar, I developed a deep appreciation for the discipline of anthropology. The experience of immersing myself into a culture as a participant-observer was enlightening, as it forced me to observe my own culture and the processes of economic development with a critical eye. As I go on to pursue a career in NGO and private business consulting, I will carry with me the anthropological research techniques and analytical skills that will help me to best understand any culture that I encounter in the future.

Emily Fleming ’12: Nairobi, Kenya with St. Lawrence University
Studying abroad in Nairobi, Kenya was by far the most rewarding yet challenging four months of my life. My program was based in the suburbs of Nairobi, and we took classes with professors from the University of Nairobi. I took a Kenyan history class, and an anthropology class focusing on health and sickness as my electives. We were all required to take a core course (anthro, focusing on culture, environment, and development) and Kiswahili. However, most of our time was spent outside of Nairobi. We embarked on various homestays: a week in the rural, agricultural communities in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, ten days in Tanzania with the Hadzabe, one of the only hunter-gatherer tribes left in the world, and a three week urban homestay with families in Nairobi. We also travelled to the coast to learn about traditional Swahili culture, and spent ten days studying the Maasai, and we spent a night with a Maasai family in their boma (hut). The last month of my program I conducted an independent study project with Africa Yoga Project, an organization that uses the transformative power of yoga to change the lives of Nairobi’s slum dwellers–truly inspirational! St. Lawrence’s program is AMAZING and introduces you to people and places you will never forget. I woke up and went to be every day truly happy! St. Lawrence’s Kenya program has been around for forty plus years, and I’m happy to say that I was the fourth woman in my family to study abroad in Kenya with St. Lawrence!

Heather Arvidson ’11: Pitzer College in Botswana
The program was broken up into three different homestays, the first in a rural village, the second a slightly more developed and larger village and finally in the capital city of Gaborone. For the first month we took intensive Setswana classes, nearly five hours everyday, then during our next homestay each student interned for a different organization. In the end I was able to do my own research with a University of Botswana professor as part of a Directed Independent Study Project. Each homestay was broken up by study trips; we traveled to Kasane, Maun and Zimbabwe to see big game, the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls (the most incredible place I have ever been). Pitzer College programs are especially nice since the groups are usually very small (8 students on my program), and the programs offer complete cultural immersion meaning we are forced to dive headfirst into the lives of those we live with.

Sara Ramsay ’11: Dakar, Senegal (CIEE)
I spent last semester (spring 2010) in Dakar, Senegal with CIEE. It was a great experience, and is one that I would definitely recommend to any Anthropology student with a foundation in French. While in Dakar, I lived with a Senegalese host family and took five classes at the CIEE study center. The courses were taught by Senegalese professors (in either French or English), but were only available to CIEE students. The program also included several trips (including a one-week rural home stay) throughout the semester, and provided a wonderful support system for students studying abroad. Although not so rigorous as Colby academically, CIEE-Dakar was a great study abroad program. I loved every minute of it.

John Perkins ’11: Nairobi, Kenya (SIT)
My studied in Nairobi, Kenya last spring (2010) on the SIT: Kenya Health and Community Development study abroad program. What a blast. Living with a family in Nairobi for the better part of three months was easily the most meaningful part of this experience. During the semester, we attended Kiswahili language courses, 2 seminar courses on development and public health, and a field studies course. We also participated in an extended rural homestay on the Indian Coast (check out the Swahili culture, a truly unique social creation), trekked out to northern Tanzania for a week, and visited many non-governmental organizations around Nairobi during our frequent field trips. The last month consisted of an Independent Study Project: essentially a highly condensed research project utilizing anthropological research methodology. Like many study abroad programs, SIT offered an introduction to international development and public health in Kenya, but they also provided the resources to explore more.

Hanna Noel ’10: Dakar, Senegal (CIEE)
Last semester I studied in Senegal with the CIEE in Dakar program. It allows you to choose from a wide range of courses including Wolof, Senegalese culture, religion, literature, etc. while living with a host family, immersing yourself in the local culture and falling in love with the country of “Teranga” (hospitality).