Study Abroad

Found a kitty

Have not been able to update you because all my stuff got jacked. About two weeks ago we (Kenya Wildlife Service) had a kiosk at the Mara Day celebration; it was a great success. We were to go to the Mara that day but decided it was too late to travel by the time we were done. Instead we went back to Narok for the night. We went out that evening and when we returned late from the club, we all went to bed. Sometime after we went to sleep, one of the ecologists and I were robbed. At least it wasn't just me, but the mac book pro, ipad, ipod and iphone along with my camera and shoes are gone. We did a police report and I have since ordered new things; I'm waiting for them to get shipped from the U.S. The biggest thing is having to spend a lot of money to continue my work. But I still love Kenya...kabisa(completely). More later.

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.

Riding a Mama on the way to the loading site

This is exactly what it sounds like. A couple nights ago we returned from our search for elephants. After riding in the back of a truck all day down dusty roads I was filthy so I got a bucket of warm water and went out to take my shower (that's right folks in the bush). It was early evening and I decided that I would skip the underwear (which, by the way they call pants here...so that in itself could be a story with all the looks I get when I make comments like "my pants are dirty") and just throw on some clean trousers and a sweatshirt before heading off to dinner. BIG MISTAKE!!! I sat under the tent with the rest of my camp mates and I began to jump and curse every 30 seconds or so, much to everyone's amusement because I was getting over run with safari ants. These "little" guys get pretty big and they have large mandibles that cut into your skin. Soon the laughter stopped as everyone else began to be invaded as well. I hurried to finish and run to the tent to take my trousers off before the invaders got too high up my legs. In my haste to shut the tent flap and take my pants off, the tent zipper became stuck about 2-4inches away from actually closing...

I decided that I would fix it once my pants were off and was shocked when a small army (25 individuals or so) fell out of my trousers. They continued their assault as I tried desperately to fix the zipper. After 5 minutes I gave up and called Vasco, a fellow researcher and botanist, to rescue me. While he worked on the zipper I used the small gap to throw out as many ants as possible. After a couple more minutes, Vasco began to yelp and even though I still had ants in my tent I could not help but laugh hysterically while my savior worked diligently under the attack of the ants I managed to throw out to finally free me after about 7 minutes. Needless to say, I donned my underwear before crawling into my sleeping bag and finally got enough of the ants out that I felt it was safe to go to bed.

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.

My first measure

This is truly a dream come true and I can tell you that I will not want it to end. I have been busting my matako (buttocks) every day and making as many contacts as possible. I am also learning as much Swahili as my brain will allow (which is never enough). I have all kinds of offers to join people and do things. I Met Dr. Noah Sitati (World Wildlife Fund) at last! He has offered me a place to stay and more work when I am done with my three month attachment to the Kenya Wildlife Service. I heard today that he has been praising me. (Wow!!! This guy is like an elephant research GOD!) Next week I go airborne to spot elephants from the air; I am also invited to go up in the chopper on a land survey by the GIS expert, Peter Hongo, over the Likipia and Samburu areas. I am so happy... more later. Take care all.

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.

Ndovu Trans-location Narok and Mara, Kenya 2012

I have arrived in Kenya, and will be here until the end of the year. I will be doing an internship or two. The main one I am doing is with Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS): the trans-location of elephants from Narok to Masai Mara.

I left Watamu on Friday morning via Mash Bus to Nairobi in order to report to KWS HQ in the Langata suburb of Nairobi. My plan was to arrive, sign, and get shipped out to Narok. God had different plans for me...the bus ride was long - over 11.5 hours can take a toll on your matako (buttocks).

The night before I left Watamu I found out that my MacBook screen went out (or at least it would not light up no matter what I tried) so I spent the day trying to contact Apple customer support (they do not keep Kenyan hours though, so that was a no go). As the day passed and the kilometers with it, I noticed that I was still too far out, and would not make it to the KWS office before they closed at 5 p.m. I called Kimutai (the gentleman who I will be directing my work as research assistant) to let him know. I should have listened to his initial advice and relaxed in Watamu until Sunday and reported Monday, but I was eager to get started.

I contacted a friend who owns a tour guide company and let him know I would need to make arrangements for transportation and lodging. I eventually made my way into Nairobi only to be halted by the usual traffic jams. I inched my way to my destination and was greeted by a good friend: Richie. He also happens to be the driver who drove us all over Kenya in February as part of the Kenya Study Abroad program; I can hardly believe that I made it back so soon. I was taken to Martin, the owner of Africa Veterans Safari (another good friend), fed, and found lodging at Acacia Camp, Langata, Nairobi.

I finally got a hold of Apple but was unable to trouble shoot the screen problem. The next morning, Richie had all day and took me around to get the screen fixed on my MacBook. Thankfully, there is an authorized Apple repair shop in the area so we didn’t have to hassle with trying to find a place. When we arrived I was quickly assisted, I told the gentleman the problem and he took the laptop. He turned it on and wouldn’t you know it, the thing purred to life, screen and all! I guess she just needed some Kenyan love - lol! Richie teased me and said that if I just wanted to see them and spend some time together all I had to do was ask.

I spent the day with Richie and drove around Nairobi, I tried goat for dinner (the flavor was a little to rich for my taste) and eventually we found our way back to camp. After Richie left, I did a little work and went to the social area. At 10 p.m., I headed to bed but got very little rest. Around 4 a.m. I was wide awake and heard music from the club next door calling me. I dressed and headed over for a Coke, relaxed for an hour and went back to my room to work on my Swahili. By 7 a.m. all the tourists were up and getting ready for their safaris, so I decided to venture out and have some breakfast. I have been talking with the workers and practicing my Swahili - trying to retain as much as I am able but often feel overwhelmed.

I have also had frustrations with the poor internet service and the sketchy portable modem I purchased. I am trying to keep in touch with everyone as much as possible through these blogs, my Facebook, emails, phone calls, etc. but I have to admit that I am extremely happy to be here regardless of how much I miss family and friends. I’ll keep posting, if you keep following...kwaheri (good bye).

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.

Pretty piggies bathed in sand; mine are on the right. Taken at Turtle Bay, Watamu, Kenya

I have been in Kenya for one full day but it feels like a week. I have been going non-stop - meeting contacts, making arrangements - and the hard work has paid off! I have official notice that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has accepted my request to participate in both their rhino and elephant programs! I leave for Nairobi tomorrow to sign on with KWS. Then I'm heading into Narok for elephant trans-location! I am stoked and exhausted. So much for taking the first few days as vacation; time to report in.

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.


The University of Washington Tacoma is seeking two to four UWT students to travel to Moscow and jointly produce an issue of The Journalist with students at Moscow State University. The trip is part of a competitive independent study that will take place during Spring Break 2012. The students will team up with students from MSU to write, design and produce a newspaper or magazine. This is a valuable opportunity for students interested in journalism and communications and for the campus as a whole, and is part of a program originated in March 2003 between UWT and MSU. Just from one brief week of working as a team, students from both countries learn about differences in journalistic practices, how one might determine what is newsworthy, and how one might decide the best way to approach a news story. In addition, important cultural differences are illuminated, discussed, and processed independently and together by the Russian and U.S. students. While students can discuss other cultures in their university classes, this type of one-on-one experience cannot be reproduced in textbooks or traditional classrooms.

Read more


Just a reminder: the deadline for priority consideration of applications for the Argentina Study Abroad program is November 16 at 5 p.m. We will continue to accept applications thereafter but don't wait too long - there's only space for 12 students total. Students from all 3 UW campuses are welcome to apply.

The Argentina study abroad program consists of two courses:

The Geography of Buenos Aires (T URB 379 - Urban Field Experience) will primarily involve field work throughout the city, examining a range of topics related to Buenos Aires. Examples include the history and architecture of the city, social issues such as homelessness, environmental issues especially as relates to water pollution, and economic problems confronting the metropolitan area. The course will involve site visits around the city and include academic exercises on these various topics.

The program also includes a Spanish language learning course at the Universidad de Tres de Febrero. This is a beginner's course and will help students communicate with their host families and navigate the city.

For students with Spanish language skills, there is the option to do an internship with Hecho en Buenos Aires, an organization that works with the homeless and produces the publication by the same name. The magazine is sold by the homeless to the general public. Interns may work in the publications office or directly with the homeless depending on their interests.

For more information on this program and to apply, please visit our website.

There are still a few openings for the UWT Kenya study abroad course in Winter quarter, even though the priority deadline was last week. If you know of any students interested in this interdisciplinary course focused on conservation and sustainable development, please encourage them to submit their applications.

The Kenya program provides students with access to areas of Kenya and corresponding first-hand experiences that are possible because of relationships that have been built over the past several years between UWT faculty and Kenyan colleagues. For example, part of the course involves travelling to the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest near the community of Watamu on the Indian Ocean. Here students will have the chance to work with a world-renowned ornithologist collecting data on the birds of this forest, including six species that are on the brink of extinction.

Read more

The UW Tacoma Office of International Programs is now accepting applications for an Argentina Study Abroad program: the Urban Geography of Buenos Aires. This program offers students the opportunity to live and study in one of the world's greatest cities, Buenos Aires, this coming Spring Quarter.

Urban Studies Director and Professor, Brian Coffey, will lead *12* students on this urban field course which includes 9 credits of T URB 379 and either 5 credits of Spanish through the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero or a 3-5 credit internship with an organization working with the city's homeless population.

Ready to get to know the city of Buenos Aires like the back of your hand? Want to learn how to make a difference in an urban context?

If you're interested: check out the program and download your application today. Priority consideration will be given to student applications received by November 16. Learn more and get ready to tango... ¡Vamanos!

What are your plans for this winter? Studying hard at UWT? How about studying hard at UWT in KENYA!

The UWT Office of International Programs is offering students the opportunity of a lifetime: A 12-credit course, winter quarter 2012, centered around a month-long stay in Kenya.

Environmental Science Professors John Banks and Jim Gawel will lead *15* students on the field studies course, Sustainable Development in East Africa. Highlights include:

  • Homestays in communities active in Green Belt Movement's tree restoration and food security projects.
  • Safari in the savanna of the famous Masai Mara game reserve, with lectures from wildlife managers on reserve design and challenges.
  • Visit the Arabuko-Sokoke forest reserve on the coast north of Mombasa, participating in an ongoing research effort to link declining bird populations with arthropod resources.
  • Work with local efforts on the coast to improve urban planning and sustainable water management.

If you’re interested, don’t wait: check out the program and apply now…priority consideration will be given to student applications received by October 31st.
Learn more