Pitzer Spotlights

2005-2006 Spotlight Archives

Matt Berry '07 Study Abroad Project Research Published

Matt Berry '07
Matt Berry '07

While studying abroad in Botswana last spring, Matt Berry ’07 was particularly interested in the northern communities of Maun and Kasane. As entry points to major game reserves and national parks, Berry noticed that many tourists pass through the two cities as part of their safari packages, yet very little time is spent by the tourists in the actual communities. Working with researchers at the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Institute, he decided to study the communities as his final research project for the study abroad program.

“One trend my research showed was that the more expensive the safari package was, the less time the tourists spent in the local community,” Berry explained. “They never actually entered the villages. The paper looks at what economic footprint, if any, is left by these tourists.”

The research was particularly interesting to the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Institute because the idea of Maun and Kasane as transition points has not been studied much. When Berry finished his time in Botswana, researchers from the Okavango Institute asked him for his findings so they could continue Berry’s research using the methods he developed. The researchers completed Berry’s work and published the report in the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Journal in January.

Village Children in Botswana
This group of children lived just a few minutes walk from Matt Berry's homestay in Maun. Since they lived directly next to the Sedia Hotel, he interviewed them for his report.

Growing up in New York and attending high school just outside of Washington DC, Berry chose Pitzer because he wanted to explore the West Coast and study abroad in a third-world country. He also liked Pitzer’s academic freedom, and has taken full advantage of it. Studying abroad in Costa Rica after Botswana, Berry decided to create his own major that reflects his study abroad experiences. It will be called Politics, Environment, and Community.

“My whole experience studying aboard in Botswana last spring and in Costa Rica this fall and coming back and creating a major that reflects my study abroad experiences is a continuation of the flexibility I saw in the curriculum when I first decided to come to Pitzer,” Berry said.

“Studying abroad in Botswana has been the highlight of my experience at Pitzer,” Berry said.

-Catherine Okereke ’00