Teach Through Educational Travel: Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island off the southeast coast of Africa – the 4th largest island in the world. You probably recognize it from the movies (Madagascar and two sequels), or for their most famous creature, the lemur (there are over 100 species and subspecies of lemur in Magagascar).
- Madagascar was named by Marco Polo – he thought he had landed at Mogadishu (Somalia) and called it Madagascar. What Marco Polo didn’t know was that Madagascar is a hotbed for biodiversity – over 90% of wildlife is endemic to the island (only found in Madagascar). Read this article and then watch this video that one of my students made about the tenrec, a small rodent only found in Madagascar.
- Are you interested in conservation? Madagascar is the perfect place to study it, as locals are trying to earn a living, while researchers are trying to conserve the environment. Where do you weigh in on this subject? What are important points that can address the issues of both parties? Check outthese photos (be sure to read the captions) from National Geographic, that address these same issues.
- Two languages are spoken here – Malagasy and French. Most citizens of Madagasar live on less than $2 a day. There are tourism and agriculture infrastructure, but it isn’t enough to raise the population out of poverty. Read this article on the typical meal (including burned rice beverage!) and food customs in Madagascar. As you saw in the National Geographic photos (above), there’s not a lot to eat, but the Malagasy celebrate being able to eat together. When you read the recipes, do you see any geographically specific ingredients? Or can these dishes be made anywhere in the world?
- Watch this video created by a study abroad student that lived and worked in rural Madagascar. It provides a glimpse into daily life for Malagasy people. Often, we imagine living on an island as a way to get away from the stress of our lives. But the reality of living here, on this island, is hard, although the locals seem to be always smiling and love to dance. Would you like to visit Madagascar, to study abroad, do research, or just visit? What draws you to this small island nation?