McKenzie Bahl

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Bradford

Heinz Programming Area:
Study Abroad Country: Tanzania Cohort Year: 2017 Home Institution: University of Pittsburgh | Bradford Programming Area: Environment
International Experience Summary:

McKenzie spend four weeks studying wildlife and ecology in Tanzania, Africa with the School for Field Studies Program. While here, she studied animals such as giraffes, elephants, Cape buffalo, wildebeests, impala, Thomson gazelles, lions, zebras, hyenas, and leopards. Through her research, McKenzie observed giraffe neck elongation hypotheses, counted mammals in designated areas of protected and non-protected reserves, and studied local soil erosion effects on the farming culture. Before this experience, McKenzie was interested in researching the involvement of the elephant and rhinoceros populations in the ivory trade. She used this opportunity to interview her professors and the local community about their opinions on the ivory trade. Through this, she learned that her professors actually create new efforts to save the animals and educate the public by creating chili powder and motor oil traps or bee traps to scare the elephants tempted to enter farmers land. During their field exercises, McKenzie and her class assisted with their professors’ research at Tarangire National Park, Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Manyara Lake, and Manyara Ranch. Towards the end of her experience, McKenzie camped at Serengeti National Park for three nights. During her stay, an elephant family walked through their campsite and a lion pride captured a zebra in the outside perimeter from where they stayed. McKenzie was also able to participate in cultural visits with the Hadzabe Tribe, Maasai Tribe, and the Datoga tribe where she was able to participate in their daily routines and activities. During her free time, McKenzie participated in cultural activities such as knife painting, trading, and bargaining at the local markets. She also volunteered to pick up trash in her hometown of Rhotia and spent a day working at their local tree nursery, and she was able to volunteer at a children’s orphanage in Karatu. 

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

Our CEE discussed some of the common stereotypes that we had labeled on our countries prior to our international experience and those that our host country had on us as Americans. The objective of our CEE program was to educate our local community on stereotypes that us as American women see every day in the United States. Our CEE educated people from different generations on how stereotypes have persisted over time. We tackled stereotypes that we have experienced regarding sex, gender, religion, racism, colorism, ethnicity, and economics. We aimed to have different ideas from each other because it would allow us to cover a broader area of discussion. My contribution to the CEE discussed the importance of wildlife conservation techniques and wildlife management. I broke down the definition of poaching and the drastic effects it has on Africa's wildlife. I also discussed how Tanzanian citizens view trophy hunting as an effort to help wildlife conservation. I wanted to address the stereotypes that many Americans portray towards these subjects and educate them on other reasons to its existence. Our CEE was created with the purpose to encourage our local community to discuss what their opinions were of stereotypes. Since each of our topics were different, it showed a variety of stereotypes exposed daily. This CEE was successful because it educated our campus and local community and encourage them to look beyond stereotypes.