Author: Michelle [Shelly] Hillman
Date: September 19, 2018
Categories: Academics

Houghton College’s Tanzania program is headed north to Kenya and getting a new name: Houghton East Africa.

The college’s original African program, Houghton in Tanzania, began in 1998 under the guidance of Dr. Jon Arensen, professor emeritus of anthropology at the college. For 20 years students traveled each spring semester to experience the majestic beauty of Tanzania and its people.

This strategic shift of venue takes advantage of exciting new ecotourism options, more cost-effective travel, better accessibility to medical care, logistical support, and a network of contacts who are experts in their fields. Rebranding as Houghton East Africa allows the college access to a wider range of locations – including expansion into other countries in the region or a return to Tanzania in future years – but also the desire to increase the program’s vision of what is possible with future groups. Dr. Eli Knapp, director of Houghton East Africa, remarks that “A broader scope increases our opportunities for greater flexibility, creativity, and adventure – all of which allow for a more life-changing learning experience.”

Students on the Houghton East Africa semester will not only learn about the culture, people, and environment, but live it. They will gather wild honey alongside Dorobo hunter-gatherers in the Mau forest, live with a Kenyan family in a rural village during homestay, visit the United Nations regional headquarters in Nairobi, climb dormant volcanoes, camp in deserts and montane forests alongside some of the most diverse wildlife that the planet has to offer, practice Swahili in local village markets, and more.

Drawing on the vast supply of social capital that Houghton has in Kenya will also enhance the experience. According to Knapp, more than a dozen Houghton alumni are working in jobs ranging from nongovernmental organization and development work to missions, privately owned technology businesses, to leading academic research at a local university. Students of Houghton East Africa will have access to this network of individuals who are experts in their respective fields, enhancing the learning experience.

“The hallmark of the Tanzania semester has been experiencing the cultural and ecological richness of Africa,” adds Knapp. “And that will continue to be our driving mission even as we move north.” 


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