My Adventure Book: A collaboration by four Education students inspired by studying abroad

“Every moment was a moment of life and excitement.”

"My Adventure Book - Tanzania Edition" book cover featuring a group of young Tanzanian schoolchildren.

Those were the words of Annabelle Hock describing a moment with students during her Tanzania Study Abroad program in May 2023. Hock, a senior majoring in elementary education, was one of four College of Education students on the trip to collaborate on My Adventure Book: Tanzania Edition. Her fellow adventurers were Bronwyn Rigsby, Emerson Ladig, and Lauren Zarras.

But according to Rigsby, this story was cooking before the trip.

Four college aged students taking a selfie in front of an "I Love Arusha" sign.
Annabelle, Lauren,
Bronwyn (in back),
and Emerson (right)

Rigsby, a sophomore majoring in elementary education, stated that the book began as a parallel of cultural differences between Tanzania and America. “When we got to Tanzania, we were inspired and enamored by their school system,” Rigsby said. The focus then shifted to contrasting differences and similarities in Tanzanian and American schools.

The book focuses on Bella, an American student who goes with her mother on a month-long volunteer teaching trip to Tanzania. Bella joins the primary school class her mother teaches, and learns about the customs of a Tanzanian school. She teaches the reader Tanzanian words for things like school, teacher, friends, grades, and so on.

What study abroad program fostered the inspiration for this book? The annual Maymester in Tanzania (open to all majors) features education classes combined with an enriching cultural immersion in Tanzania. Program leader Jill Newton is a professor of mathematics education in the College of Education. She said that the Maymester trip was based near Tanga on Tanzania’s eastern coast for most of the trip. Hock, Rigsby, Ladig, and Zarras taught in a village near Tanga for three weeks. Newton added that the last week was spent in the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and the city of Arusha.

Bronwyn taking a selfie with a group of Tanzanian children.
Bronwyn with students

“My vision for my future was so altered by my study abroad,” Rigsby commented. “I now plan to join the Peace Corps after college, teaching in a country in need.”

“Being able to challenge myself and doing things that are not necessarily comfortable – it changed my outlook on school,” Hock remarked on her experience. “And not just being a teacher but also being a safe place and an impactor – not only someone that teaches, but who is taught by the students. I learned a lot from those kids.”

Ladig, a senior majoring in elementary education, added to Rigsby and Hock’s observations on her time in Tanzania. “This trip set me up well for this experience in the way that I have already led a class in Tanzania for three whole weeks,” Ladig noted. “We also learned a lot about global consciousness and how this is prevalent in our day-to-day lives.”

Lauren Zarras with a group of Tanzanian schoolchildren standing in front of a chalkboard.
Lauren with students

Newton helped guide the students in their book project, established a timeline with them, and provided resources. “The students did the hard work of conceptualizing, organizing, and writing the book,” she said.

Rigsby said that the four students participated in a weekly study abroad seminar during the previous semester for the trip and planned a portion of the book while in that class.

Rigsby and Ladig stated that the book’s audience is students and teachers. However, they hope anyone curious to learn about other cultures will read the book. “We aim for this book to bring cultures together,” said Ladig, “and to prove that we are not all separated and different.”

For more information on the book or to purchase a copy of the book, email Bronwyn Rigsby at

The current Maymester in Tanzania is May 5-May 31, 2024. Although it is too late to participate in the 2024 study abroad program, contact Dr. Jill Newton ( for details about the 2025 trip.

Sources: Jill Newton, Annabelle Hock, Emerson Ladig, Bronwyn Rigsby, Lauren Zarras

Writer: Rebekah DeMoss,