SIT Tanzania: Coastal Ecology & Natural Resource

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About Program

Examine coastal ecology and natural resource management in one of the most remarkable areas of the world: Zanzibar and the islands of the Western Indian Ocean.

The region's geographic location and distinct ecological conditions allow students to study specific environmental topics, including tropical forest management and coral reef conservation, in a unique context. Through thematic coursework and direct field experience students are exposed to multiple sources of knowledge in order to better understand the dual imperatives of economic growth and environmental protection.

Once the thriving hub of the East African caravan trade, Zanzibar's abundant natural resources today help promote its important tourism industry. Yet tourism and other industries present serious challenges to the region's fragile ecosystems.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Best Study Abroad Experience

As an Environmental Studies major, my abroad program relates directly to my activities in the classroom and gave me an opportunity to apply what I learned at my home institution to the real world. A key focus in the Environmental Studies major is integrating humanities and science. Throughout the entire SIT abroad program, I lived in local communities, worked with local community members and got to experience first-hand how individuals interact with their environment and how they view environmental issues I was studying. Through these interactions, I was able to ask questions and get their opinions about how environmental issues such as climate change, sustainability and tourism, impact their communities, then hear and see what they believe are the best solutions to address these challenging problems. I learned that through these experiences, local individuals are creating innovative ways to address different problems, using the locally available resources, and attempting to be sensitive to the cultural norms impacting the lives of people in their communities. Experiencing this first-hand gave me the opportunity to see these challenges through the eyes of local individuals, which really helped me understand and appreciate the importance of the interdisciplinary nature of my major.

What was your funniest moment?
One of the best parts of my experience in Zanzibar was the ability to travel with my group to other islands and to mainland Tanzania for different excursions. My favorite experience was swimming with whale sharks off Mafia Island. This SIT program initially interested me because of its marine ecology focus, but when I found out that one of the excursions was to swim with whale sharks off Mafia, I knew I needed to learn more. It has always been a dream of mine to swim with these amazing animals and I even wear a whale shark print watchband that I rarely take off. While on this trip, I talked with the boat captain who informed me how eco-tourism plays a role in protecting these amazing creatures. During the 90-minute search for the whale sharks, the boat captain provided a background of how the local community protects these animals. And when we finally found the whale sharks, I was able to swim with, and film these gentle giants for approximately 2 hours. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and one that I will never forget.
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