Rutgers - Science Summer Abroad 2010
Nine Science Undergraduate Students Around the World

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Haraka Haraka Heyena Baraka - Heather

Quickly quickly has no blessing. This is a popular motto in Africa, where learning to take your time is a welcome virtue. However, here at Kilimanjaro Busch Camp, time is of the essence, and we are finding ourselves having to spend our minutes very wisely. Our days here are well packed, full of exploration, learning, and fun. So far, we have been beginning our days around 6:30, with breakfast at 7, then two classes, lunch, class or fieldwork, volleyball, dinner, activities, research, then bed. Yesterday, we met several female members of our neighboring Maasai community. Dressed in long, bright, colorful clothing, the Maasai women greeted us with a traditional song and then welcomed us to join them in their dance, which consisted of a lot of bouncing, clapping, and ear-to-ear smiles. Next, it was our turn to sing to them. We returned the favor by singing a horrible rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” which mostly resulted in puzzled looks from our Maasai counterparts. Thankfully, a Kenyan student was able to redeem us by singing a traditional song of his tribe. Once in the Maasai village, called a Buma, we were given the chance to go inside the Maasai houses, which are made mainly of cow dung and sticks. Today, we visited the main location of the Kimana Water Project, which is working to provide clean water (a very rare and valuable commodity in Kenya) to local households. The land is so arid here compared to anywhere else I’ve been, and it’s unbelievable to see the amount of work it takes to supply potable water to just one community. We have been learning a lot about the resource issues in Kenya, and the challenges that this country faces are daunting. The basic problem is that there is very limited water to go around, which is fueling conflict between pastoralists (such as the Maasai), agriculturists, and wildlife. When we finally go out into the field to do our surveys, it will be interesting to hear from the community about the effectiveness of environmental and public health initiatives that are already in place. Until then, we are busy working hard to learn as much as we can about Kenya and the Maasai, and finding time for games of volleyball and charades. Other goals of mine: snap a good shot of Mt. Kili, avoiding poisonous snakes and stinging caterpillars, and having a food fight with a baboon.
Serenia! (Goodnight!)

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