It was the middle of the night, but a few overhead lights illuminated smiles, tears and frantically waving hands as dozens of friends, roommates and family members bid adieu to spring SST students.

A bus carried the 23 Tanzania-bound students from the Union shortly after 1 a.m. last Wednesday, Jan. 12. The spring 2011 Peru group also left the Union at around 6:30 the same morning.

For many, the occasion was bittersweet. Laurel Woodward, a sophomore, acknowledged the challenging aspects of saying goodbye to close friends who left for SST.

“It was harder than expected,” said Woodward, “because you form support systems at college that are really essential in keeping you grounded. However, it is good for us because the people here have started finding ways to expand their boundaries.”

Four Tanzania students experienced difficulties with visas and were unable to arrive in Dar es Salaam on Thursday with the rest of the group, but by Friday all 23 students were safely reunited with each other and with group leaders Ryan Sensenig, associate professor of Biology, and his wife Donna Shenk Sensenig.

The Peru group is led by Kevin Gary, a professor of education. The group arrived safely in Lima on Wednesday night. They have spent the last several days navigating the city and settling in with their host families.

Students in Tanzania have also begun to settle into their new homes in the city of Dar es Salaam, the administrative capital of Tanzania. They will spend the first six weeks attending lectures at the University of Dar es Salaam and studying the culture and language of Tanzania at the Swahili and Culture Institute. The students will spend the second half of the term doing service in the northwest regions of Tanzania.

Those interested in keeping up with friends abroad can read the blog written by the group leaders at