URI student is immersed in unfamiliar culture

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KINGSTON, R.I. – September 18, 2012 – Researching the Noolturesh River in Kenya, taking safari trips to analyze the elephant wanderers, and being immersed in a third world basin of obscure wildlife were among University of Rhode Island student Emma Hanslowe experiences during her spring semester studying in Africa.

A senior wildlife and conservation biology major from Wharton, N.J., Hanslowe has long dreamt about studying wildlife in Africa, which is home to the world’s most unique and diverse populations of species.

Upon her acceptance to the School for Field Studies, a non-profit academic institution, Emma was the only student from URI and one of 28 students in the United States to have the opportunity to study in Africa for four months.

“I was so grateful and absolutely shocked when I got selected. I couldn’t imagine spending two months in Tanzania followed by another two months in Kenya. I knew this would be the start to an incredible journey,” said Hanslowe.

Hanslowe explained the transition from a middle class home to a small banda; an African hut, with 3 roommates in 100-degree heat, was the most challenging adjustment.

“The moment when I realized it was all worth it was when I went on my first safari. I saw massive elephants, wildebeests, impalas, warthogs, over 50 species of birds, a family of giraffes, and hundreds of different types of reptiles. The animals brought me back to life. I now knew I was here for a reason, to study my passion.”

Each student completed a research project in an area of interest. Hanslowe chose the Noolturesh River in Kenya, she focused her project on the water quality, quantity, and conflicts that this river imposes on the local communities that depend on this water source to survive.

Hanslowe explained, “After learning Swahili from my professors in Africa, I interviewed and talked with local communities regarding this issue. I was so grateful and touched that I got to hear firsthand how devastating this water contamination is to the nearby residents. It definitely puts life into perspective and makes you appreciate what you have.”

When asked what the peak moment of Hanslowe’s study abroad experience was, she broke into a broad smile. “It was my last safari trip to the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, and we had to wait inside to let a huge rainstorm pass. As soon as it cleared up, we rode around as quiet as can be and all of a sudden a herd of elephants and their calves came lumbering through the golden pink sunset. They ran right up to our safari truck and were as close as a few inches from my hands. It was the most incredible experience and it was the perfect way to end my four months in Africa.”

This press release was written by Tess Povar, an intern in URI’s Department of Communication and Marketing and a public relations major.

Pictured above

Emma is at the Amboseli National Park taking photographs of elephants from her Land Cruiser.

Emma embracing the local community at the nearby orphanage in Tanzania.

Emma is getting ready to part ways with her home stay family in Rhotia, Tanzania.