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Arusha, Tanzania: Biology of Eco-Health (Summer)
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Alice Lin

Liberal Arts Major(s): French and Francophone Studies
Other Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Hometown: State College, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of my experience was being able to observe animals I have only seen in books, TV shows, and zoos wandering freely across the beautiful African landscape. It was incredible to watch lion cubs play against a setting sun and wait as elephant herds crossed in front of our land cruiser. I loved trekking behind baboon troops and spotting colorful sunbirds through my binoculars. The critical level of endangerment that many species in this part of the world are facing is devastating, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to see them in their natural habitats.

Stepping outside the classroom and into the field introduced me to a whole new way of learning and engaging with my education.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This program taught me the importance of learning by observation. Most of my past courses readily handed me information through lectures and textbooks; however, in Tanzania, my learning was entirely based on what I saw and reflected upon. On game drives, I would notice how zebras often accompany migrating wildebeests. Why? Because wildebeests provide protection from predators. During walks in the bush, I would wonder, why are mongoose feces so shiny? Because they contain mashed up insect parts. Stepping outside the classroom and into the field introduced me to a whole new way of learning and engaging with my education.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

In Tanzania I was able to interact with people of the Maasai and Hadza ethnic groups. These groups have cultures unlike any other I have encountered before, and it was humbling to live with them for few days. I had the chance to carve arrows, participate on a hunt, harvest honey from a tree, and forage for tubers, among so many other activities! As an aspiring doctor who will one day care for patients from many different backgrounds, I believe this experience helped me reinforce the importance of respecting and striving to understand others no matter how different they may seem.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

Paterno Fellows has given me encouragement and support to seek opportunities beyond the classroom. By taking what I have learned into the field and immersing myself in an environment teaming with life, biological significance, and culture, I have been able to connect more deeply to both my studies and the world around me.

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