Tanzania: Community, creativity, and communications

About the program

What does travel and reading local literatures enable us to explore — about not only the places and people we encounter, but also about ourselves? How are places represented and people’s stories told — or not told? How can sharing diverse ideas and perspectives lead to understanding and mutual benefits across disciplines and across cultures? How can creative and cultural production inspire social change and community building, both locally and interculturally? 

Students participating in the Go Global East Africa program will explore such questions, while benefiting from experiential learning in Tanzania that considers a vast range of cultural perspectives, creative works, social initiatives, educational models, and community-building strategies. 

From excursions to artisans’ collectives and local markets to visits at local schools and conversations with East African educators, students will have opportunities to learn from a variety of grassroots perspectives. Program participants will gain further cultural insights via author visits and opportunities for one-on-one conversations with leading-edge East African writers, land rights activists, and social justice leaders. Students will also have opportunities to explore uncontested wildlife reserves. 

Beyond the official program, those who wish to stay in the region after the in-country program concludes may choose to participate in an additional, optional excursions, as the final three weeks of the course are by distance education. Options beyond the program range from a Mount Kilimanjaro climb or a visit to the island of Zanzibar. Our hosts and guides in East Africa are happy to help with arrangements so that everyone can experience the journey of a lifetime. 

With coursework plus plenty of opportunities for self-directed academic pursuits and/or creative projects, students in the Go Global East Africa program will immerse themselves in diverse experiences, while developing a range of interdisciplinary and intercultural communication skills. 

For some information on previous Global Seminar Programs that have run to Tanzania, view the video below. Note: this year’s focus will be different from previous years.


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General Timeline

Teaching Dates: May 9 – 26, 2023

Arrival: May 8, 2023

Week one: 

  • Orientation to the Nguruma Village, Tanzanian culture and educational systems, and Kiswahili language.
  • Excursions to local schools, markets, artisans’ workshops, coffee-growing regions, family farms, and ecological reserves, with experiences ranging from cooking traditional foods to writing and photography.

Week two:

  • Workshops on writing skill development and interdisciplinary communications
  • Visit a Maasai village and learn about Maasai ways of life
  • Guest visit and reading from a Maasai land rights activist and poet artivist, to understand the current oppression of the Maasai people 
  • Wildlife safari at the uncontested Tarangire ecological reserve, famed for its elephants and giraffes 

 Week three:

  • Immersion in a Chagga village, including rare experiences to become involved with traditional dancing and songs performed by elders, and opportunities to exchange ideas with residents of all ages
  • Hiking and overnight camping at Mount Kilimanjaro’s Shira Plateau 
  • Author visits, guest speakers/performances, and conversations with leading East African authors and social activists from Kenya  
  • Workshops on writing and interdisciplinary communications, with individualized feedback from the Program Director 
  • Goodbye lunch to wrap up the official program 

Week four (**optional**):

  • Additional trusted contacts and resources for student wishing to go on a longer safari, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, or pursue travels in neighbouring regions, such as the island of Zanzibar, will be provided for those interested. 

All weeks of the program will include:

  • Learning from guest speakers, authors, land rights activists, and human rights leaders; 
  • Excursions and involvement with cultural, artistic, environmental, and/or social initiatives; 
  • Classroom instruction in writing and communication skills applicable to various disciplines; 
  • Reading and discussion of travel writing, East African literature, and diverse forms of creative and cultural production; 
  • Opportunities for student-defined projects and/or creative production; 
  • Options for hiking, biking, creative writing, artistic production, photography, local cuisine, and cultural immersion; 
  • Time and encouragement for self reflection; 
  • Experiences within a small cohort of under 20 UBC students total; and 
  • Individualized one-on-one skill development and meetings with the Program Director. 

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Eligibility and Prerequisite

Prerequisite: At least one 100-level English course (such as ENGL 112, ENGL 114, ENGL 150, ENGL 151, ENGL 153, ENGL 155, or ENGL 156) or APSC 176. 

Students from all disciplines and degree programs are encouraged to apply. Students do NOT need extensive literary backgrounds to enjoy and excel in this program, as it is designed to welcome students from all disciplines.


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Program Fees

Program fees $3,300-$3,800*.

*The final program fee depends on the number of students in the program.

Note: The program fee will be offset by $1,000 for UBC students through our Go Global Award. If you have any pass/fail courses, we will assess your average with advice from your faculty.

Included in program fee Not included in program fee
  • Accommodations
  • On-site group transportation
  • Some meals
  • Entrance fees
  • Guest lectures
  • Go Global fee
  • Flight
  • UBC tuition
  • Remainder of meals
  • Health or travel insurance
  • Immunizations (if necessary)
  • Visas (if necessary)
  • Personal spending money for communications, snacks, souvenirs, etc.)


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The program is comprised of two courses students will take concurrently. Successful program completion will earn six (6) 300-level arts elective credits during summer Term 1.

ENGL 394B:

Writing a Place, Writing a Self: Travel Writing, Representations of East Africa, and contemporary East African Writing and Cultural Production examines travel writing and portrayals of East Africa in international media, journalism, and film, contrasted alongside contemporary East African literature and cultural productions. Considerations of diverse social issues, educational systems, and environmental challenges – as well as the intersections between cultural production and empowerment – will encourage students to consider the dynamics of how stories and knowledge are created, valued, and shared. Readings, film viewings, response assignments, and opportunities to learn directly from East African writers, cultural producers, and social justice leaders will enhance students’ understanding of East African cultures, cultural productions, and the complicated dynamics of travel and tourism, alongside contemporary issues relevant to local and global communities.

ENGL 394C:

Beyond Borders: Strategies for Interdisciplinary, Intercultural Communications immerses students in local Tanzanian and Kenyan cultures. Opportunities for experiential learning and developing strategies for interdisciplinary and intercultural communication will enable students to advance their own writing and communication skills, specific to their discipline but also with a focus on communicating beyond it. Students will have the opportunity to design and pursue an independent project, which could include a creative project, that reflects their interests and academic trajectory.

** Vancouver students will need to discuss with their advisor how these credits will work towards their degree requirements


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Program Director Bio

Joanna Cockerline is cross-appointed in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies and the Faculty of Management at UBC, Okanagan campus, where she has taught since 2011. She teaches contemporary literature, composition, and communications courses, and is especially enthusiastic about bringing intercultural perspectives into her courses. In 2018, Joanna was nominated by students for the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Excellence in Teaching Award.

Passionate about the insights meaningful connections across cultures can inspire, Joanna has travelled extensively in 14 countries in Africa, as well as in numerous additional continents across the globe.

Joanna’s teaching is further informed by her work as a writer, editor, and communications instructor in the private sector. She works with companies and organizations across a diverse spectrum, from environmental initiatives and engineering firms to not-for-corporate-profit community organizations. She is also deeply involved as a nighttime outreach worker and literacy mentor for a grassroots community organization dedicated to women working and/or living on Kelowna’s streets.

Joanna is a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Literary Award winner for a short story set in East Africa. She has published fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and journalism in literary journals, newspapers, and national and international magazines, and her upcoming writing has been selected for the International Human Rights Arts literary magazine based out of New York City.

Beyond her love for reading and writing, Joanna enjoys hiking, photography, attempting to cook a variety of cuisines from around the world (with the emphasis on “attempting”!), enjoying the outdoors, and learning from the diverse perspectives of everyone she meets.

Joanna draws upon her connections in East Africa to provide students with opportunities for meaningful experiences and considerations in an intercultural, interdisciplinary context. In addition to the academic investigations, coursework, and creative possibilities the program enables, she looks forward to getting to know each students’ interests and goals to collectively create an incredible experience living and learning together in East Africa.


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