Thanda Newkirk ’21 stands with the Tanzanian mountain landscape behind her

Thanda Newkirk ’21
Major: Environmental studies and Africana studies
Hometown: Centreville, Va.
Program: School for Field Studies (SFS) in Tanzania: Center for Wildlife Management Studies

What drew you to SFS in Tanzania?

I figured that doing an environmental studies program in an African country would be a great way to bring my two majors together, and I really liked that SFS was a more structured program. The directed research component was also something that appealed to me.

What are you studying?

I am taking Introduction to Swahili and East African Culture, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Ecology, and Environmental Policy. We study different management strategies and research techniques in Tanzania in Wildlife Management, and in Ecology, we study different animal ecologies. [There’s] a lot of time outside of the classroom between field exercises and traveling lectures. Classroom time was mainly to set up the basics that would be applied out in the field.

Tell us about your research.

Directed research takes place during the second half of the semester. [Mine] is focused on the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of brickmaking on local communities.

Where are you living, and what other activities are you involved in?

My campus is located in Rhotia village, which is in northern Tanzania. Throughout the semester I have been volunteering [what time I can] at a tree nursery and a library in town.

What’s your favorite part of the day?

We do this thing every night after dinner as a group called ReKAP where a different person asks a reflection question, gives three Kiswahili words, does announcements, and does a presentation. It is a great way to get to know more about the people who are in the program with me and what they do outside of the program. My presentation was about my oceanography research [last] summer.

What has surprised you most about life in Tanzania?

Definitely the pacing. Life in Tanzania moves a lot slower than it does in the United States, and it took a while to get used to, but I have really grown to appreciate it.

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