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Walden Magazine // Jan 01, 2010

Lessons From Africa

Hannah Strand, a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies student, is working toward her degree from rural Tanzania.

Hannah StrandLiving in a remote village in northern Tanzania without a university for hundreds of miles, Hannah Strand knew that if she wanted a higher degree, she would have to study online.

“It was really important for me to find a degree that was flexible, and that I could apply to my daily life,” says the Tanzanian native by way of Britain.

Strand, who works as a logistics coordinator for a farm cooperative, lives in the tiny village of Maweni on the southern tip of Tarangire National Park. Though her days are full of consulting with local farmers and coordinating land contracts to sustainably change farming practices in Tanzania, Strand wanted a higher degree to back up her social change work.

It was through a PhD in Psychology student and fellow Tanzania resident that Strand first learned about Walden. Through Walden’s BS in Interdisciplinary Studies program, Strand realized she could not only learn about communication, management, accounting, business, and psychology entirely online, she could also directly apply that knowledge to her position at the farm cooperative. She enrolled in 2009.

Because of her rural location, Strand’s Web access is limited. She uses her mobile phone as a modem to connect to the Internet and downloads her coursework and additional resources as quickly as possible.

“The Internet is slow and expensive so I download my assignment, discussion, and any other resources, and copy it straight into Word,” says Strand. “I try to do everything I can on the actual Internet and then I cut it off. That way I can just take my time with my assignments.”

Despite her limited Internet access, Strand connects with her classmates and enjoys adding her international perspective to class discussions.

“The people in my class who are from other countries or who have traveled a lot are better at understanding that I’m really far away. People in the U.S. often don’t realize that their class is going to be so multicultural. They get really excited and ask questions. It’s a great opportunity to learn how other people live.”

The Download
Student: Hannah Strand, BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
Location: Maweni, Manyara, Tanzania
Closest City on a Map: Babati, 21 miles away
Equipment: Laptop computer and mobile phone with Bluetooth