We have been in Tanzania for a month now, and with that period of time under our belts it’s easier to get a better perspective on what we’ll take away from this semester. It’s funny how some of the most rewarding experiences have been completely unrelated to the wildlife we came here to study.

A couple of SFS students have independently organized some hour-long teaching sessions at the local primary school, where we read English picture books to the kids to teach them some basic English vocabulary. Not only are these classes a fun opportunity to practice our Kiswahili, they also present an excellent socio-cultural growing experience. Controlling a classroom of 30 Tanzanian 10-year-olds is certainly challenging, but watching the students expand their vocabularies over the course of the class period is immensely rewarding. It really feels like we are making a difference there, and hopefully this program can continue with future SFS students.

While community engagement has certainly been fulfilling, our field exercises have been anything but dull. On Tuesday we went to Ngorongoro Crater, which was formed after a massive volcanic explosion 2-3 million years ago. Today the crater is a sanctuary for many kinds of wildlife, including zebra, wildebeest, elephant, and hyena. We got to see lions resting right on the side of the road, and were able to spot a rare pair of black rhinos at a distance from a hill in the crater. The combination of stunning geology and abundant wildlife at Ngorongoro made it the most scenic and memorable park we have visited thus far. However, the expedition everyone is looking forward to is coming up in two weeks, when we will journey to Serengeti for five days of field work.