Like the diseases we study, our studies span across national borders. The uniqueness of this program in coordinating research between institutions across continents means spending time in Tanzania and America, as well as presenting and networking everywhere in between. Unlike traditional programs, those of us from abroad have the opportunity to study and live in Tanzania for an extended amount of time before/during completing field work. Those based in East Africa then have the chance to stay at one of the Northern universities for similar skills advancement. So far in my program, I have both stayed in Tanzania for an extended time and been at WSU when a fellow cohort member visited from East Africa.
During my time in Tanzania, I performed a cross-sectional survey after taking classes over a few months at NMAIST. Often with survey data it can be hard to put a voice with the results, especially if the survey is done in another language and performed by multiple enumerators. However, my time in country leading up to fieldwork provided me with perspective on Tanzanian life and prepared me with some key Swahili livestock health lingo. The flexibility of living in country ultimately allowed me to better relate to my survey data and attach a voice to the statistics—an opportunity I would have missed had I not spent every weekend haggling for fair vegetable prices in the local market or talking with the village kids in Swahili.
Equally valuable, though, was the opportunity to share WSU-Pullman life with Gladness last year. In between her busy work schedule, we managed to buy a garlic press, eat brunch, freeze in the snow, and compare American farmer’s markets with Tanzanian open-markets. Had she only come in the fall, I could have shown her an American college-town tradition, football games. Even without this, though, I benefited from having her visit as it gave me an opportunity to share some aspects of American life. I know my perspective on Tanzania would be completely different had I not stayed there for an extended time, as I hope Gladness’ perspective on WSU and Pullman was enhanced by spending time with us. You can only gain when you share. Unless of course you are sharing foot and mouth disease across borders, then both countries just lost important trade opportunities.