Final Thoughts on Summer Research

After coming home from Tanzania, I have had some time to reflect on my summer.  I am grateful to be able to drink tap water again, but I miss the novelty of living in a different country, and the stimulation of new experiences.  If I were to do it over again, I would be sure to study Swahili before I arrived.  Though many academics and professionals speak impeccable English, I missed out on truly interacting with the people I met day to day.  Even when I tried a few jumbled and mumbled words in Swahili, it was appreciated as an attempt to communicate and connect.  I can only imagine the connection a greater fluency would have provided.

One great thing about the research we did is its ability to let us travel – this was my favorite part of the trip.  We lived in the coastal city of Dar es Salaam. The land rights workshops took me to some south eastern villages in Kilwa and Rufiji.  Helping with the roll out of phase three of the mobile phone study took us up to the northern part of the country in Arusha, where the weather was far cooler (such a nice break from the coastal area) and the scenery was beautiful.  When helping one of the students I was with on her honors thesis, we traveled up to Mwanza by Lake Victoria, an experience and sight I will never forget.

If anything, the ability to travel and to learn in such a different place instilled in me the importance of undergraduate experiences in research.  Without experiences like these that make undergraduates open and passionate about their work, how else can one inspire a future generation of scholars?

Comments

  1. Anna Chahuneau says:

    Hello Megan,
    Nicely condensed thoughts. I could not agree with you more, traveling is so incredibly essential to a well rounded undergraduate college experience. And not only were you able to enjoy and learn from your time in Tanzania, but also were you able to acknowledge what you could have improved. Your willingness to understand both the “good” and the “could have done better” will serve you in your future travels and experiences abroad. I am both envious and proud that we send students all over the world, and I hope people like you keep on building a global community.

  2. cmcrowley01 says:

    Hey Megan,

    I’m super interested in this land rights workshop that you guys did! Was it run by JET (this is a Tanzanian NGO we worked with last summer)? How did this tie in with the mobile phones experiment? I’m excited that you got this experience! Since I was in Dar for this project last summer, let me know if you ever want to get coffee and chat about how it went!

    Catie

    Catie