Rainer Kenney '13

  • Major: Biology and Environmental Studies
  • Study Abroad Program: SFS, Kenya and Tanzania

Rainer KenneyWhy did you decide to study abroad and why did you decide to spend your semester in Kenya/Tanzania specifically?

I always knew I would study abroad. I've had several other international experiences prior to Bowdoin, and I wanted a longer experience to become more immersed in a culture. I wanted to go somewhere in Africa because I thought it would be challenging and was a place unlike any I had ever experienced which excited me. I chose my program because it filled the biology requirements while allowing me to live in a unique place in Africa.  

Tell us about your study abroad experience in and outside of the classroom. 

The program was academically intensive with a lot of time devoted to school. However, while some of this was in the classroom, much of it involved going into the local community or going into national parks to observe the wildlife. The most challenging aspect was the directed research project, where I did research, data analysis, and wrote a 40+ page paper over the course of 3 weeks. The most thrilling were the "lab" portion of our classes, where we did anything from elephant population counts to examining baboon social behavior.  

How did you connect your off-campus study with your Bowdoin academics and extracurriculars, both before leaving and upon your return?

After returning, I became involved in several OCS programs and informational panels to convey my experience and offer advice for future students because I found my experience so great and important for my overall Bowdoin experience. As far as academics are concerned, my experience made me realize that many times there aren't "correct" answers, and that there is a gigantic gap between what works in theory and what works in reality. 

What do you believe was the value of study abroad for you academically and personally? 

It gave me a totally new perspective. So often we talk about Africa as one entity, when in reality it is such a diverse place. It also made me question the role of wildlife protection by outsiders in foreign countries, and how that effects both the wildlife, and more importantly, the local people. 

Does international work or travel figure into any of your future plans?

I do hope to work internationally again at some point in my life, particularly in Africa. It is an incredible place and I can't wait to return.