Ozarks Abroad offering an "authentic" experience in Africa

Release Date: 3/18/2013

Next semester, a dozen Ozarks students will have the opportunity to travel to east Africa as part of the latest Ozarks Abroad trip. In addition to exploring the wildlife, a volcano and Lake Navasha of the Great Rift Valley, the students will experience firsthand the culture and traditions of the native Maasai tribe of Kenya.

Dr. Kristin Hedges, adjunct instructor of anthropology at Ozarks, first developed the idea of taking a group of students to Kenya while watching a presentation about Ozarks' last trip abroad.

Kenya"The inspiration actually came while I was listening to a few students give a presentation about their recent trip to the Amazon. As I listened to them speak about how much the trip had meant to them and the things they had learned, I realized that we could offer a similar experience in Kenya." Hedges explained.

Dr. Hedges has long-term friendships and experience in Kenya from her work with the Peace Corps and anthropological research among the Maasai.

Before the students can fly off in search of African adventure, however, they must first learn a little about their destination. Hedges will co-teach the inter-disciplinary class with Director of Outdoor and Environmental Experiences Jamie Lewis-Hedges and Associate Professor of Science Education and Environmental Studies Dr. Kim Van Scoy.  

"The class will offer a multi-disciplinary approach to Kenya," Hedges explained. "Dr. Van Scoy will be covering the earth science. She will prepare the students for understanding the geological, botanical and biological uniqueness while exploring the Great Rift Valley. Jamie will cover the human-environment issues in Kenya, including conservation surrounding game preserves and interaction. I will take an anthropological approach and teach the students about the native Maasai people and their culture."

Hedges' experience with Maasai people in Kenya will enable this trip to depart from the average Kenyan tour. Although students will enjoy a safari, mountain biking and hiking, Hedges has arranged for the group to reside among the Maasai.

Naishorua Leto (left)

A 2013 Fall Semester Study Abroad class on Kenya will include camping on the Maasai homestead of Naishorua Leto (right), a friend of Dr. Kristin Hedges, Ozarks’ adjunct instructor of anthropology. Hedges will co-teach the multi-disciplinary class that will conclude with a trip to Kenya.

"One of the unique experiences about this trip will be the homestays. We will be camping on an actual Maasai homestead and experiencing their culture as authentically as possible," she said.

Hedges has already received several inquiries about the trip and anticipates the 12 open spots to fill quickly during registration, despite the rather rustic nature of this excursion.

"The students do need to know that this trip will be camping intensive. In fact, we'll be sleeping in tents about 90 percent of the time that we're there," Hedges explained.

The trip offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a beautiful and majestic part of the world while experiencing the daily life of a culture from within. Interested students are encouraged to attend an information session with the Hedges and Dr. Van Scoy on Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in Baldor Auditorium. Convo credit is pending.