by Christy Ihlo -- July 9th, 2012
The sun shone brightly on the patio while Andrew, Jen, Kelly, and I gathered to watch the theatrical exploits of a group of young Maasai scholars. Their assignment: to write and perform skits in English, not an exceptionally easy task for native Swahili speakers. But they did well, struggling through some of the words and phrases, probably a bit nervous having an audience of native English speakers. We cheered them on, laughing at their comedic perspective on being students.
The next night, we turned the tables, as Kelly, Jen, Andrew, and I performed a skit in Swahili for them. One line and it was obvious why I never ventured into acting – couldn’t stop laughing at myself and got a complete mental block on how to pronounce the Swahili word for animals –wanyama. This proved problematic as our skit was “Good Tourists and Bad Tourists” and as the “Bad Tourist” I was afraid of animals. Thus, wanyama was pretty much in every one of my lines. Incidentally, I had practiced one of my lines while heading out for an evening game drive earlier that day – “Nimeogopawanyama.” – “I am afraid of animals.” Apparently I pronounced it correctly and said it convincingly as the Hadza trackers that were accompanying us were immediately alarmed! We had to quickly reassure them that I was just kidding!
APW sponsors about a dozen students from LoiborSiret in their secondary education. The students must be members of APW’s Wildlife Club, complete an application, and pass an interview to be selected as a Noloholo Environmental Scholar. APW hopes that by sponsoring some students they can spark an interest in environmental protection in the next generation. They are a fun group of kids – full of spunk but sometimes a bit shy for the camera. I have become the somewhat “official” photographer for the summer, so I spent quite a bit of time snapping candid shots of them for Laly to use in the future. This arrangement works out great for me, as I have always wanted to develop skill as a photographer and now I have plenty of excuses to practice!
Saturday night, we decided to have a bonfire, complete with an American-style dinner of burger and fries (we were supposed to top those off with brownies and ice cream but subsequently decided that we were too full to thoroughly enjoy dessert). They were delicious! We considered this our fourth of July celebration as summer camp will be underway this coming week so celebrating on the actual fourth will be difficult. Once we finally settled down with our fantastic culinary creations, the wind picked up a bit and we heard a weird scraping noise from the patio. Didn’t really think much of it until a few minutes later we saw the light of a raging bonfire flickering through the canvas walls. Buddy jumped up and quickly ascertained that the wind had ceremoniously deposited one of the plastic chairs into the fire, leading to a great ball of flame! Our fourth of July celebration was complete with our own interpretation of fireworks!