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Africa & The Middle East

The loss of control

L’oreille collée au sol, j’entendais passer demain. My ear to the ground, I heard tomorrow pass by. –Aimé Césaire Every day at school last semester I used to set out a plan for myself. I would run through all the events of the day while I lay in bed every morning: papers due, homework to finish, people to see, and activities to go to. This speaks to American culture, I believe: a shared motivation for prosperity, a drive, the laying down of stepping stones to systematically get to where you […]

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First look at Sénégal

I’ve been told that the East Coast is expecting a snowstorm tomorrow and that classes have been cancelled! A bit ironic seeing as there is approximately a 0% chance that my classes will be cancelled as it won’t be raining for a very long time here in Dakar. Everywhere there is sand, and the temperature runs at a solid 75-80 degrees daily. I’ve been in Dakar since Sunday and what I can say is that in my few days here, I’ve discovered that this city has a liveliness that is […]

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Day One

Directed Research started today. My project is to conduct personal interviews on how climate change affects local livelihoods and biodiversity, but that’s not important. What’s important is the events that unfolded today to give one of the best reasons we are advised to stay flexible during our research. 16 November 2015 6:30 AM- My banda mates wake up to prepare for their DR. They are making final preparations for a six-day camping trip in the remote Yaeda Valley, which means a third of the students will be gone. I roll […]

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The French Crutch

There’s a downside to being in a multilingual country and knowing one of them (aside from the one that is being learned). While it’s easy for me to speak in French rather than Arabic, I must avoid French like the plague. By speaking French with my first host family, I harmed my Arabic speaking skills; to learn a language it is necessary to use it at every opportunity. Despite the fact that I knew how to best learn to speak a new language, I let my nervousness with Arabic overcome […]

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“Yeah, Africa! Camel dance!”

In the beginning of October I was able to travel to the Sahara! Since my arrival, I had wondered when this excursion would happen and I when I learned it would be so soon, I was ecstatic. I was ready for camels, sand and sun; I got all three of the things I wanted, of course. My first camel friend was the cutest, though a little stubborn to pick up the pace. I named him Aziz! We all rode camels for two hours on Saturday (October 4) until we reached […]

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Tarangire National Park Expedition

As you may have noticed, my four loyal readers, today is October 30th. Our expedition to Tarangire National Park started on October 3rd. My bad. I will try to recall event details to the best of my ability, but I am at the mercy of my journal entries, which consist more or less of stream-of-consciousness blather. This semester, we will go on three expeditions where we go camping in national parks. The first of the three was Tarangire National Park, about a two-hour drive (one and a half if you’re […]

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There’s No Place Like Homestay

Last night, Becky announced our homestay assignments, where pairs of students would spend the day with a local family and learn about their daily activities. I couldn’t contain my excitement and began to bounce in my seat until I regained composure of my muscles. Each of the houses was titled by the Mama who lives there, usually followed by the last name or the first-born child. The first announcement was Mama Aziz, our Swahili teacher’s mother, followed by no less than a full minute of uproar from the students. Since […]

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We Will We Will Iraqw You

10/9/15 Iraqw Culture One of the lessons I’ve learned during my time in Tanzania is the major opportunity provided by language. I can think of no greater way to traverse boundaries and connect people, enabling one to access a bounty of wisdom that can only be shared through widespread communication. That being said, I have been struggling with Swahili for over a month now, watching the portal to infinite Tanzanian knowledge denied to me. The staff at SFS are terrific and selfless, and I want to know as much as […]

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Maasai, Manyara, Mto wa Mbu, and More

9/17/15 Our Wildlife Ecology professor brought a bag of dried animal poops to class today. He waved them around whimsically, pieces flying every which direction, asking us to guess which animal produced each one. He walked up and down the aisles of tables, joyfully placing small piles on students’ notebooks and asking us to take careful notes on the size, shape, and texture. Thus is the sass and style of John Kioko, Ph.D. There was a valid reason for his lesson, of course, other than his own enjoyment from students’ […]

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It Was the Best of Times

Time moves differently in Tanzania. The calendar shows I’ve been here just three weeks, but it feels as though it could have been anywhere from a few days to several months. Classes, fieldwork, and socializing have all been such a whirlwind that recalling details makes my head spin. (Or maybe my malaria meds are just making me nauseous.) I only anticipate the pace to pick up from here though, and it may be January by the time I am caught up. Thanks for your patience, Mom and Dad. 9/14/15 Our […]

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Eid Al-Adha

I feel very obligated to write about the Islamic holiday that has just passed. As I mentioned in a previous post, all I really knew about this Eid was that a sheep would be sacrificed, something that sounded vaguely Satanic and caused nervous laughter whenever it was mentioned. Having participated in Eid with my family I have a very different perspective, even without the religious significance that it has for my host family. Wednesday after class I returned to see our sheep in the outdoor garage. Now I had pictured […]

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Chefchaouen

This past weekend seeing as it was not one, but TWO friends’ birthdays, we decided to spend the time in Chefchaouen. When you type Chefchaouen into Pinterest or Google you will immediately be presented with thousands of the same five pictures of a surreal blue city. One (read: me) might assume that these were filtered, that the only five beautiful spots are these, but in fact the entire Medina of the city is idyllic, and I don’t use that word lightly. After a four hour drive up and around mountains […]

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Wonderful Arrival in Morocco

Today was my second day here in Fes and there is so much that I could say. In short, I can already tell that I’ll love almost every minute of my time here. Despite some very bad luck I’ve had, it is impossible for me to stay mad about it thanks to the happiness I feel having the opportunity to be here. The group of us traveled to the Medina, the old city, where Moroccan tradition flourishes. I had read about the medina through many sources, of course nothing beats […]

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Stings and Caresses of Culture Shock

I have been in Morocco for two weeks and now have gotten a good idea of some cultural differences. In regards to my studies, all classes are in full swing and I have already learned many things from my teachers and classmates. One great difference between Morocco and the US is that just about all foods are organic and freshly made; Moroccans value food that tastes wonderful but does not bring the body a lot of harm. I appreciate this type of mentality and hope that one day the US […]

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Elephant Cave Hike and Karatu

Me holding the skull of a cape buffalo at the entrance The weather in Tanzania so far has been absolutely gorgeous every day, making it dangerously easy to fall deeper in love with my surroundings. We are at the beginning of the dry season, and the short rains won’t start until November. The mornings start out cool and breezy, progressing towards a daily high around the mid-80s F. The sun is constantly shining with only a few clouds in the skies, which contributes to a dry heat augmented by the dust everywhere. […]

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