Summer A 2017: Tanzania

Study abroad in Tanzania Summer A 2017: Homo Sapiens' Ancient Origin and the Oral Traditions of the Maasai People of East Africa


Homo Sapiens' Ancient Origin and the Oral Traditions of the Maasai People of East Africa is a five-week program designed to provide students with an introduction to East African cultures and traditions. The program explores the unique history, culture and traditions of the Maasai people, an ethnic group that has preserved its culture despite the forces of globalization. The Maasai inhabit the Ngorongoro plains, which are part of the great East African Rift Valley in which Olduvai Gorge is found.

Olduvai Gorge is a site in Tanzania that holds the earliest evidence of the existence of homo sapiens. Paleoanthropologists have found hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools in the area dating back millions of years, leading them to conclude that humans first emerged in Africa, for later to other regions of the world.

“Olduvai” is a misspelling of Oldupai, a Maasai word for a wild sisal plant that grows in the area. The gorge is located in the Great Rift Valley, between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. It is 30 miles from Laetoli, another fossil-rich area. Olduvai Gorge was formed about 30,000 years ago, the result of aggressive geological activity and streams.

While in Tanzania, students will visit the Olduvai Gorge where they will have first-hand experience of the world’s famous archaeological and paleoanthropological site. Included in the program is a tour to Ngorongoro crater, the largest un-flooded and unbroken caldera in the world. In Ngorongoro, students will see animals: including elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffaloes, zebras, wildebeests, black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dog, warthogs, and crocodiles.

Another memorable activity will consist of having students take part in a coffee plantation tour, where students will pick, process, grind, roast and brew and taste fresh coffee directly from the farm. Tanzania is famous for her aromatic Robusta and Arabica coffee varieties. The students will take advantage of the vast coffee plantation located close to their residence in Tanzania.

Students will be housed in a rented town house near the Usa River. From the house students will enjoy a perfect view of Mount Meru (second tallest in Tanzania) and Mount Kilimanjaro (world’s tallest independent standing mountain). The house was built in 2010. It is fenced and guarded 24/7. It has a modern laundry facility, wifi, and offers a great deal of privacy. A typical Tanzanian breakfast will be taken in the house daily, and lunch will be served wherever the students will be as per program itinerary.

The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students at FIU and other universities nationally and internationally. For a total of 6 FIU credits, undergraduate students will take SWA 1196 Introduction to Swahili Language and Culture (3 credits), and AFA 4931 Special Topics in African and African Diaspora Studies: Homo Sapiens’ Ancient Origin and the Oral Traditions of the Maasai People of East Africa.

Graduate students will take AFA 5932 Special topics in African and African Diaspora Studies: Homo Sapiens’ Ancient Origin and the Oral Traditions of the Maasai People of East Africa (3 credits), and AFA 6905 Independent Study / Directed Readings in African & African Diaspora Studies (3 credits).

During this study abroad, students will have an opportunity to visit and interact with students from the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology and the University of Arusha.

Due to limited space, it is highly recommended that those students who are interested in pursuing this study abroad opportunity, call 305-348-4156. By doing so, your name will be added to the contact list of interested students.