10 days and counting…

With a little over a week before departing the country, we have tons to do to get ready for our trip.

As I was moving out of my house in Durham last week, my neighbor asked where my house-mates and I would be spending the summer. Beaufort (“How lovely”) …Colorado (“O, I love it there”) …Tanzania (“O my!…”) That is one of the two most common reactions I have received when I tell people about what I will be doing this summer (the other being “Thats SO cool!).  My feelings about my upcoming experience are definitely closer to that second reaction.

Sam Baraso and I will be spending the upcoming 11 weeks working with Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld and the African People and Wildlife Fund at Noloholo Environmental Center, outside of Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. I wont bore you with what you can read in our internship description, but it looks to be a summer rich with different activities – all geared toward working with the Maasai to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

This is the area we will be working in this summer.
This is the area we will be working in this summer.

How did we get this incredible opportunity? I have to credit the Duke Big Cats Initiative Intern Team, under the guidance of Dr. Stuart Pimm, Dr. Luke Dollar, and Andrew Jacobson.  It was through this group that Sam and I met Laly and were able to develop projects for this summer. (The Duke BCI team works with National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative, for which Laly is a grantee).

Putting this internship together has been an emotional roller coaster – going from thinking we had grant money in the bag, to thinking that we weren’t going to get anything, to thinking we would be staying in the States this summer, to getting enough money to make the trip possible, to securing our airfare, to now – when we are getting ready to leave. On top of all this has been piles of Visa paperwork, Typhoid and Meningitis shots, prescriptions for anti-malarial pills, downloading tons of GIS data, packing, and trying to cram-learn Swahili…but I know it will all be worth it once we get to Tanzania.

Still on the to-do list is purchasing enough bug spray for the summer (no one wants Malaria, Dengue Fever, or African Sleeping Sickness here), figuring out how to fit everything into only two bags, and having as many deep bonding sessions with my Rosetta Stone Swahili as possible (msichana anaanguka = girl falls…see all the fun stuff I’m learning!) My next entry will likely come once I get there, so wish me luck on my 16 or so hours of travel between DC and Kilimanjaro International Airport!

3 thoughts on “10 days and counting…

  1. When traveling to a foreign country one thing to keep in mind is that most assume that they are United States health-insurance coverage will provide coverage on a worldwide basis, that is not the case. You will need to purchase a health insurance policy that will provide coverage worldwide… just an FYI.

    1. All insurance coverages are different. You have to check with your carrier. In Emily’s case she IS covered by my insurance from work and they even provided the contact information for the doctor in Arusha that she can see, if needed.

  2. Greetings Emily and Sam.

    I am an incoming first year to Duke’s MEM program this fall. I was excited to learn that there are current students with an interest in Africa. I have been working for the past two years with the African Wildlife Foundation, a 50 year old organization focused solely on the African continent. Our priority interventions include species science and conservation, land conservation, capacity building, and enterprise development. As such, we have a lion researcher who works in and around Tarangire National Park and I thought perhaps I could connect the three of you. Dr. Bernard Kissui is an ecologist who’s primary focus is ecological monitoring and reduction of human-wildlife conflict. He works with the surrounding communities to alert them of lions in the area. In addition, he provides materials to secure ‘predator-proof’ bomas (100% success rate thus far).

    I thought perhaps that you would be interested in connecting with Bernard and collaborating on your research. Bernard is a native Tanzanian with many years in the conservation arena. I think he could be a valuable resource to the two of you this summer. He can be reached at BKissui@awfafrica.org. More information on his research can be found on our website (http://www.awf.org/content/solution/detail/3504).

    I have spent over 6 months in Africa and am returning this summer just prior to moving down to Durham. I unfortunately won’t be in Tanzania, but have been twice and absolutely love the country (despite the proposed highway through the Serengeti). Hopefully we can connect once we are all back in Durham as I’d love to hear about your experiences this summer.

    Best of luck to the two of you! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance!

    Christina Van Winkle

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