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Sebastian LaTorre: Tanzania

Hello, my name is Sebastian LaTorre and I am currently a Junior at Wofford College where I am studying Environmental Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology. I had the pleasure of spending last summer in Tanzania, and I am so excited to share all about my experience there with you!

I came across the School for Field Studies (SFS) Tanzania study abroad program after expressing interest in studying abroad in Africa to Wofford College. Specifically, I studied the basics of wildlife management in Tanzania and how to create and manage protected areas. As a result, we spent many days and nights researching the creation and long-term management of national parks in Northern Tanzania.

Due to the fact that we were SFS's first group to study abroad after Covid began, there were very few of us in this course. While I didn't expect to have only five classmates, I remember arriving at the airport at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro and all immediately recognizing each other as members of the program, our excitement growing.

In addition to housing, on-site cooking staff, and safari cruisers, the program provided meals and entertainment. It was a wonderful experience for us to embark on our daily game drives through the parks together. Seeing our first lion and long drives through the African savannah, watching Olive Baboons in the unimaginable heat, will be memories we will cherish forever.

My advice to people wanting to study abroad or visit Tanzania would be to remain open-minded. The way of life and cultural norms which exist there are completely different than here in the states. Although the streets are not paved, cell service is limited, and you will stand out, everyone will be kind to you. There are many children in the little village of Rhotia who will flock around you, wanting to hold your hand and to listen to your broken Kiswahili.

I highly recommend SFS to anyone considering traveling to Africa, as it was such a rewarding experience for me in Tanzania.

My love for Tanzania's scenery and people led me to write a letter to commemorate my time there:

"My dearest Serengeti,

Your vast savannahs, towering acacia trees, and rolling hills leave me in awe. The way your sunsets paint the sky with vibrant hues of orange, pink, and purple is a sight to behold. Silhouettes of your wildlife may well be the most beautiful scene I have ever seen. And when night falls, your starry skies twinkle like diamonds against the dark canvas of the night sky, filling me with a sense of wonder and reminding me of the infinite beauty that exists in this world.

I will forever cherish the memories of adventuring through your grasslands, watching your majestic wildlife roam free, and gazing up at your starry nights. The way the stars twinkle and dance across the sky is simply mesmerizing, and the peace and calm that comes with sitting under the starry sky cannot be matched.

The herds of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles that roam your grasslands in search of fresh grazing, the majestic elephants that roam your forests, and the big cats that reign supreme over your savannahs. Watching them in their natural habitat is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. Daily game drives kept me close to you as I got to witness your beauty every single day.

But it's not just the big game that steals my heart. The kindness of the people who call you home has touched my heart in ways I never thought possible. Their warmth and hospitality have made me feel welcome and at home, and I have learned so much from them about what it means to live in harmony with nature and with each other. Having the opportunity to stay with Mama Regina and her family gave me the chance to appreciate first hand what life is like here.

Pole, Pole (Slowly, Slowly) is a saying for the way of life for Tanzanaians, allowing us to fully appreciate and savor moments as they come.

Serengeti, my love for you knows no bounds. You have captured my heart and soul, and I will always cherish the memories we have shared and look forward to the ones yet to come."

Back under your sunset soon,

Sebastian LaTorre


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