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Experiences in Africa

"Adventurous students are studying in Ghana, South Africa and other sub-Saharan countries," said a Nov. 12 New York Times article on shifting destinations.

The 58 Miami students who studied in Kenya, Ghana and Gambia went with faculty members Mel Cohen (political science), Gail Della Piana (architecture and interdisciplinary studies) and Kim Medley (geography).

Medley, who has taught "Biodiversity of Kenya" since 1996, says that one outcome for the mostly white students who accompany her is the opportunity to experience — often for the first time in their lives — what it’s like to be a minority.

"Even though they are a privileged minority, they realize that they have so much to learn. And they are overwhelmed by the friendliness of the Kenyans," says Medley.

"Awesome," is how Nikki Mihevic, a junior geography major, describes the course. The opportunity to interact with Masai who live in traditional dung huts remains one of the highlights of her experience.

Medley explains that one of her goals is not just to explore the plants, animals and ecosystems of Kenya, but to introduce Miami students to indigenous cultures through service projects and daily interactions with natives, ranging from researchers to expert natural history guides.

Miami students have helped a village build a primary school. They’ve also explored Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley, the savanna of the Masai Mara, the bush land near Tsavo National Park Field and coastal forests and reefs along the Indian Ocean.

Date Published: 12/04/2003
Volume: 23   Number: 17

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