Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management
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Share daily life by living with Malagasy families.
Hospitality is very important in Malagasy culture. The two-way exchange afforded by the program’s two homestay experiences is an integral and unforgettable part of the semester.
Students live with a host family in Fort Dauphin for a month, which is broken up by trips to various ecosystems, national parks, historical sites, and the village stay (see below). Some students also choose to spend time with their Fort Dauphin host family during the Independent Study Project period.
The homestay in Fort Dauphin offers a gateway into the warmth and generosity of Malagasy family life and social relations. It is a primer for language learning and gives deeper insight into many of the issues discussed in the program’s core seminar.
The program’s experienced homestay coordinator works to ensure a cross section of families. Host parents in Fort Dauphin work in a variety of professions and could be teachers, government officials and civil servants, doctors, bankers, NGO workers, or auto mechanics. Families tend to be large with many children.
Many Malagasy homes are modest and simple compared to American homes, although homes of wealthier families can seem very large and lavish. Most host families are middle class, and cook outside on charcoal stoves, so it is not uncommon to have pigs, chickens, goats, and occasionally turkeys in the courtyard.
To learn about Malagasy rural issues, students live for one week in a rural village, typically in the area of Faux Cap. Faux Cap is on the southern tip of Madagascar, on the ocean, and students are placed in different villages surrounding the town.
Village conditions are very basic, with no electricity or running water. Students may spend time in bean fields, at the local school, medical clinic, and at the market, or be engaged in another local activity. Each evening, host families teach the students songs and dances typical of their village. A member of SIT’s staff typically visits each village daily.
The village stay emphasizes the importance of reciprocity as an integral part of the study abroad experience. SIT students travel to Faux Cap with Malagasy students studying environmental management at the Centre Ecologique de Libanona in Fort Dauphin. In addition to sharing the experience of living in rural Madagascar, SIT and Malagasy students work together to obtain information pertaining to health, education, transportation, local governing structures, economic activities, communication, physical and cultural environments, and the ecology of each village area.
The rural visit provides an invaluable opportunity to participate in the daily activities of rural Madagascar communities and to learn and work alongside Malagasy students while gaining a deeper understanding of pressing environmental and social issues.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels, campsites, or small hotels.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Fort Dauphin (Tolagnaro)
Language Study: French, Malagasy
Prerequisites: Coursework in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields; 3 semesters college-level French Read more...
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