Monday, November 30, 2009

Going to the Movies in Tanzania

The last few days have been paper writing days as our paper for our Independent Study course is due tomorrow. On November 28th, we gave presentations about our various studies to the Olasiti Village Government. It was nice to be able to share our findings and suggestions with them but the meeting was extremely long as everything we said had to be translated into Swahili. The meeting was supposed to begin at 10am but of course, we were on African time and the meeting did not start until 10:45am and went until 2pm.

Earlier in the week, we decided to take a break from academic work and go to the movies. I hadn’t seen a movie in theatre since at least May but didn’t really feel like I was missing out by not seeing any new movies. One of the girls in our group told us that she had seen Inglorious Bastards back home and loved it and suggested that we go to see that. I knew nothing of this movie nor any other movie that would currently be playing so I didn’t really have an opinion.

I was surprised by the looks of the movie theatre when we pulled into the parking lot. This beautiful place was definitely a place only for mzungus and well off Africans. We bought our tickets, got some popcorn, and went into the theatre.

All of the other students loved the movie but I was not a fan at all. As I am sure you guys back home know, the movie is about the Nazis. But it is meant to be a funny movie about how the Jews get back at the Nazis and Hitler. Yes, the Holocaust is in the past but I do not think that this movie was appropriate at all. The movie, although obviously not true made it seem like the way to get back at the Nazis was to torture them and treat them in horrific ways like they did to the Jews which really bothered me.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Sorry for not updating this in quite some time…I have been very busy working on assignments for my International Studies course. As soon as the assignments are completed and turned in, I will fill you in on everything that has happened during the past few weeks.

A brief Thanksgiving update: Even though we are far away from America and are working on writing our papers, we are a group of American students and we felt that it was necessary to celebrate Thanksgiving. We got all the supplies and spent Thanksgiving Day cooking, just like we would have back home. We were lucky enough to be able to use a house with a stove and oven in order to carry out this affair. We made mashed potatoes (which were good but not as good as Grandma Gloria’s) and sweet potatoes and green beans and corn and stuffing and appetizers and chicken and apple pies. It was a very fun day and the end result was absolutely delicious. Our make shift Thanksgiving in Tanzania was definitely a success.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Arusha Homestay

Our eight day long home stays are coming to an end today. I think that the theory and idea behind staying with a family in the village that we were doing our projects in was a great idea but it was somewhat limited as about half of the group stayed at the chairman of the village’s house. It was nice to stay with Alex and get to know his family and his lifestyle but it was somewhat odd that we were not more spread out in the greater community as I am sure there were other people in the village who would have loved to host us.

It was interesting however to see how Alex, the chairman of the village played a role/ didn’t play a role in some of the projects. For example, Natalie said that when she went to one of the orphan centers with Alex, the director and other staff people there acted much different than on the day that Natalie and I went there with Zenan. I am not sure if they felt threatened or scared or intimidated by having Alex there but it definitely changed the entire environment and the conversations as well as the information which was exchanged that day.

The home stay was a good experience though as I enjoy home stays and could make comparisons with the other home stays that we have done during our program here in East Africa. This home stay was most like the Riruta Satellite home stay as we were in a somewhat modern home with modern technologies in a somewhat poor and developing village. It was interesting to see the way in which other people in the village were living and struggling to get resources such as water and how easy it was for our family to access those resources. Instead of having to walk to a water tap or well or something, our family had jugs of water delivered to their home. This increases their ability to do work around the house and do other important tasks as they do not need to spend the time or energy carrying jugs of water to and from the water tap. I am not sure if the reason that our family had water delivered and always available was due to the fact that they could afford to pay for it or due to the fact that it was the home of the chairman of the village. I am not exactly sure how much power this gives Alex and what kind of rights he has that other villagers lack.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Surveys

Not many additional surveys got completed today as I was not feeling well and was too weak to walk around and survey people in the village. Four of the five of us staying with our host family got sick at the same time. We were taken to the hospital and didn’t have anything too serious. It took a few days to recover but then we were back to normal.

I tried to go out and do surveys today but didn’t make it more than about 5 minutes away from the house before having to return home to rest. It was somewhat disappointing in that manner but that is life. However, two people from the village came over to the house today and I took the opportunity to survey them so I made a tiny bit of progress but not as much as I hoped to have made.

As I was not out doing surveys, I spent a lot of time reading some of the research that I had found on the internet. It was very interesting and fascinating to read about various people’s perspectives on the issue of orphans in Africa and more specifically in Tanzania.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Orphans: Independent Study Projects

After splitting from the Biology group, we immediately got started on our Independent Study projects. We were given suggestions and some guidelines but often times, our questions, no matter what they were, were answered by our ‘professor’ saying, “It’s independent.” We had to develop research questions and prepare for interviewing/ surveying people in the village. My research project topic changed multiple times and drove me crazy until earlier this week, I finally settled on a topic that would stick. My research question is: how many households in the village of Olasiti house and support/ care for children that are not biologically theirs? I created a questionnaire and got some help translating it into Swahili. I have been walking around the village with my host sister who is 14 years old and knows English pretty well. We approach people at their homes and my host sister tells them about me and explains what we are doing, why we are doing this research, and answers their questions. Then, they hopefully agree to do the survey and we ask them about 20 questions ranging from demographic questions such as: year born, religion, tribe, etc. to questions more specific to my topic of orphans. We ask how many children the person has and if they have any children living with them that are not their biological children. We then find out why the child(ren) are living in this home and how they are related as extended family culture is big in Africa and relatives will often take in orphans. The survey takes about 10 minutes but we often end up spending more than 10 minutes just explaining our purpose and answering all the questions that the person has about the project, often regarding how it will help them. Being with a group of Americans in Africa for three months was something that I wasn’t really looking forward to very much before our program started. It has been difficult at times as some of the other students haven’t been so understanding and open to African culture and ways of life. Currently, we General Culture students are in home stays in Olasiti, located outside of Arusha. There are five of us in my home stay as we are staying with the Chairman of the village, Alex and his family. I enjoy home stays and don’t mind being the only student in the home stay but others have gotten a bit fed up with that by now so they are really happy that we are grouped together.

The main issue bothering me right now is the fact that spending time with these other students all the time is making them complain vocally at an extreme level. I understand that other students do not enjoy being called ‘mzungu’ when walking down the road and being asked for money and other things but I believe that it is our fault that this happens. Americans make all of these movies and music that display white Americans as rich people, better than other people in this world. Of course Africans who haven’t had the chance to interact with Americans only know what they have seen in the movies. And the children who have only seen white people a handful of times get excited when they see us. Some of the students think that the children should call them by name but they don’t take the time to talk to the children and tell them their names or explain to them that they don’t like being called ‘mzungu.’ It’s funny how they don’t even think about what it is like to be a child here in Africa and to have never seen a white person before but just looks at this through the eyes of someone who thinks they are of higher status.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Maasai Homestay

This evening is our last night on safari. Although it has been awesome to see and learn about so many different cultures, animals, and areas, I am happy to be going back to civilization. We arrived at our last camp to find our tents already pitched and threw our belongings inside of them before heading off for an half hour hike to a waterfall. This ‘hike’ consisted of walking across the river in places and getting pretty wet, making the rocks that we had to walk on pretty slippery. I definitely slipped and fell a few times. One of these times that I fell, was when we were crossing the river. I freaked out because my camera was in my backpack which came down into the water with me. Luckily, my backpack is amazing and even thought I got soaking wet, my camera did not have a drop of water on it!

When we arrived at the waterfall, we stripped down to our bathing suits and ventured into the water. It was hot outside and we were all pretty sweaty so the water felt so nice. The waterfall was coming down quite hard so we couldn’t go right under the main part of it but we were able to go under other parts of it. After being in the water for awhile, it started to rain. We started to think about how much more difficult this would make the walk back because the rocks would be even more slippery. We hurried out of the water because we were informed that it might flash flood and walked back to camp.

As I am typing tonight, I have little, annoying insects flying around on my screen. I must tell you that I cannot wait to be in a place where there are no biting flies (tse tse flies) and million other biting and stinging creatures. I currently have a bunch of flea bites on my ankles which itch like crazy. Apparently they are from our most recent home stay with the Maasai.

The Maasai home stay was an experience different than anything I could have ever imagined. It is one thing to see pictures of the Maaai and to read about their lifestyle and such but it is another thing to actually be there, living with them, doing the things that they do on a day to day basis. The gender roles in the Maasai family are very clearly defined. The mother stays at home, cares for the children, fetches water and firewood, builds and cares for the house, and cooks. The father on the other hand is responsible for herding and caring for the livestock.

It is amazing how much responsibility the children have as well. One of my host brothers, about 11 years old went out with us to collect firewood and helped with preparing food and cleaning around the house. The children are also responsible for caring for their younger siblings and helping their elderly relatives. It was amazing to see the respect that the children have for people that are older than they are. I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing shikamoo or greeting someone else in that manner. This respect towards the elderly is definitely something that we are lacking in America.

Our host mothers arrived on the morning of November 3rd. Us students we each given a walking stick which we held along with our belongings as all of the host mothers sang together for us. In return, we sang Row, Row, Row Your Boat in rounds. All of us students were lined up and the mothers, all decked out in their Maasai jewelry and kangas with their shaved heads were maybe 50 feet away in a line facing us. In order to decide our home stay assignments, the mothers walked towards us and grabbed onto the student closest to her. Before this occurred, I had no clue that our home stay assignments were going to be random. It was awesome though cause I think everyone had a good experience and the staff didn’t have to go through and pair us up or anything.

We started walking, following the mothers, not knowing where or how far we would be walking. Some of the mothers, including my mother spoke Swahili and the rest spoke only spoke Maasai. We had been given a sheet with important Maasai words but those of us with mothers who spoke Swahili were able to better communicate with each other. As we walked, the mothers jingled as they wear a ton of jewelry…all the time! My host mother took one of her many necklaces off and put it around my neck.

As my host mother and a number of the other mothers lived quite far away, we were picked up by Habibu, our driver after walking for some time. As it was a pick up truck, we all jumped into the back of the truck and smashed together, standing up for the ride. It was quite frightening at times as the road wasn’t great and we would hit potholes or be on a slant which made it feel like the whole truck was going to fall over on its side.

We were dropped off and walked towards our ‘boma.’ As we approached, I saw some children come outside and stand there, just staring at me with huge smiles on their faces. I was happy to have host siblings and would later learn that I actually had seven host siblings. The youngest child, Naomi was about a year old and the children ranged in age to about 16 years old. I greeted the children in the traditional way, by placing a hand on the child’s head and saying ‘supa.’

The boma was made of cow dung mixed with water and mud and was quite dark inside. There was no electricity but there was a fire which provided a bit of light. My bed was a cow hide on top of some sticks. I was happy to have my sleeping bag as I had some major issues sleeping. And every time I moved to try to get more comfortable, which was pretty much impossible, the bed squeaked. The work was physically tiring and at the end of the day I was so tired which helped until I woke up in pain in the middle of the night due to the way I was sleeping.

I was lucky to be sleeping in the room furthest from the fire as other students who had beds in the room with the fire complained about the smoke. The smoke still bothered me, especially when I was helping to prepare meals. It got so bad at points that I had to walk outside and get some fresh air as my eyes were watering uncontrollably. On my second day in the home stay, I had my translator explain to my host mother that when I started crying, it was just because of the smoke from the fire and not because I was actually crying. She totally understood and actually told me at times that I should go outside when she started to see that my eyes were beginning to water up.

After arriving at the boma, Mama and I sorted through uncooked rice and picked out pebbles and even a piece of glass! This is an activity that I did at least once a day, depending on what we were eating that day. It is a tedious but necessary activity as I would hate to bite down on a rock or something worse. Mama, ready to cook the rice, blew on the fire to get it started up again. She told me to try so I did. The children laughed at me as I was not as good at it as their mother or even them.

While Mama was cooking dinner, I went outside with some of the children and attempted to help milk the goats. I didn’t realize how difficult it was and on this first attempt, I made no progress. The milk was brought into the house and added to the chai which we drank while waiting for dinner. Dinner was delicious and consisted of a rice, potato, tomato stew.

That evening, before heading off to bed, one of the translators stopped by to make sure everything was okay and to help with any translations. It was so nice to have the translators come by every day as it helped me express things to my family that I couldn’t express through hand signals or in Swahili. In addition, having the translator there allowed my host mother to feel more comfortable asking me questions about my family back home and life in America.

I was exhausted by the time I got in bed at 9:50pm but unfortunately this did not make it any easier for me to actually sleep as I woke up every few hours during the night.

Here is a piece of what I wrote in my journal on November 5th, during my home stay. “Mama is sitting next to me chewing on something that sounds like gum but isn’t. Every so often, she slurps it and then continues chewing. Naomi starts crying, signaling that she is awake from her nap. Mama carries her back outside in her orange in green dress which makes her look somewhat like a pumpkin. She also brings out Naomi’s bowl of rice and feeds Naomi as she chomps away on her gum like stuff. She calls Kokoyoi, one of her daughters to bring some water. She obeys and sits with us for a minute before mama orders her to do something else. Naomi stares at me, tears in her eyes still and her face covered in food. It’s nice outside today. Yesterday, the sun was so strong that I felt like I was burning even when I was in the shade. It looks like it is going to rain soon – the clouds are dark and grey and the sun is hidden behind them.

Mama drinks water, her jewelry causes her to jingle. She is adorned with beads – from her ears to her neck, wrists, and ankles. Her ears are gauged as are almost all the women’s ears and a majority of the men’s. Even Bibi, grandma, who is at least 50 years old has her ears gauged. Mama drops the spoon she was feeding Naomi with in the dirt. She tries to pour porridge into Naomi’s mouth but just makes a mess. She picks up the spoon and rinses it with the water remaining in her cup. I look up and we smile at each other. She continues chomping away as the wind picks up and the clothes hanging to dry start blowing in the wind. ‘Zach,’ she says and points in the directing from which Zach and his host mother are walking from. His mama is dressed in red and green cloths and of course, is adorned with beads. She jingles as she walks as does Zach as he has beads around his neck and across his chest.”

Later that same day: “It is evening now and although it is still light outside, it is raining. The rain is much needed here as the drought has really affected the Maasai. When we were driving here and even when just walking around, one sees dead cows all over the place. On the drive here, we saw Maasai men sitting and their cattle laying down next to them. The cattle looked dead to me but we were told that the cattle were not yet dead but rather, their owners were waiting for them to hopefully get up enough energy to stand up and walk.

I am listening to the rain hit our tin roof and Mama talking to some relatives. They are preparing dinner by the fire. I would be helping but every time I have gone in to help, I start crying uncontrollably. I am not crying because I am sad but rather because the smoke makes my eyes water a ton.”

On November 8th, we will briefly stop at Lake Natron before spending the entire day traveling back to Arusha. We will have one free day before our last portion of the program begins. At this point, the Biology group will be splitting from the General Culture group. Those of us in the General Culture group will be staying right outside of Arusha in Olasiti and doing our Independent Study projects. I will be working on the issue of orphans and researching, observing, and suggesting ideas about how to improve this issue. Other students are doing their projects on: water, family planning, and other important issues that effect Olasiti (and most other African villages). The Biology group will be traveling more – going back to the coast to do some marine studies and back to safari for awhile. During our last few days of the program, we will all come back together for a retreat in Arusha, where we will also be responsible for presenting about our Independent Study projects.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hadza Camp, Ngorogoro Crater, Halloween, and more

On October 24th, after eating lunch, we hiked up the mountain which wasn’t too bad. We were so happy when we reached the top and saw blue tents in the distance, meaning that our camp was getting very close. The safari staff had set up our tents for us as they knew we would be tired when we arrived from this long journey.

During our time at the previous Hadza camp, we learned about the roles of the men and women. Today, we spent the day with the Hadza women and began the morning by visiting their homes which are very small and cozy. It is weird walking into a home that is about the size of my bathroom back home and realizing that this is the amount of room these people have to live in. Its amazing how materially obsessed we are in America and how these people can live with so little and be so happy and content with it. I wonder how they feel when we arrive with our huge cameras and other things that these people do not use or possibly even know of.

We gathered tubers with the women, digging in order to find these roots which were later cooked for us to eat. I must admit that I did not like them at all as they kinda tasted like uncooked potatoes. In order to get to the area where we dug for the tubers, we had to walk for a good 30 minutes and then in order to actually dig for the tubers, the women were doing a lot of physical work. And those women with babies carried them and kept them on their backs the entire time. It is amazing how much physical work they do. We have technologies to do this type of stuff for us back home or we hire other people to do this type of work but these people do this on a daily basis in order to survive. This is normal for them.

We all gathered around as they opened a bee hive and tasted the honey inside which was pretty good. I only ate a small piece because unlike the other students, I didn’t want to eat a piece with bugs in it. The Hadza then taught some of the students how to make fire before we headed back to camp.

We had the rest of the day for free time but there were activities that we could choose to participate in. A group of us sat with some Hadza women and did some beading. I made an anklet and then one of the Hadza women made me two more – unfortunately one has already broken but I am still wearing the other two. A majority of the students made arrows but I decided not to do that because:

a. I had no clue how I would get it home and did not want to have to carry it around
b. I just didn’t really want to make an arrow

But I definitely heard the students ‘wows’ and clapping when someone succeeded at shooting their arrow at the target.

This day was a very hot one and the sun was beating down on us. I put on sunscreen five times on this particular day and guess what…I still got sun burnt. Aloe Vera definitely became my best friend for the next few days!

That evening, we sat around the campfire and the Hadza sang for us. We decided on a few songs and sang to them in return. It must have been hilarious listening to the 30 of us singing rounds of ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ and ‘This Land is Your Land’ but we managed to pull it off.

At this camp, we had class and presentations on top of a mountain and watched the beautiful sunsets. Some people opted to sleep up on the mountain but I felt safer in my tent and didn’t want to freeze or get attacked by animals or insects during the night.

On October 27th, we traveled through the Yaeda Valley (this time in safari trucks) to Dofa campsite near the entrance of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. We camped in what seemed like the backyard of a mansion. From our campsite, we could see a road – a real one that was paved and everything. It was such a change from the other places that we had camped at so far. This mansion backyard had amazing, hot showers which we definitely took advantage of. That evening, those of us in the General Culture group gave presentations about our findings from the hunt with the Hadza. We had to estimate the abundance of the animals that we had seen or had seen any evidence of (tracks or dung) during our hunt. This was an interesting assignment as all of us students knew that our estimates were not accurate at all especially since we probably did not see as many animals due to our noise and scent.

The following day, we got into five Safari Land rovers, smaller than our Safari trucks and drove to Ngorogoro Crater. Our driver, Kevin was very nice and enjoyed driving us around and watching our expressions when we saw animals. When we arrived at the crater, there was a group of people shooting a music video. I inquired about this and learned that they were shooting a gospel music video. It was neat to watch these Tanzanians all dressed up dancing in the rain. We entered the park but couldn’t see much for awhile due to the heavy fog.

The crater is a touristy area which is described as a gigantic zoo. It is however a World Heritage Site and is considered by many people to be the Eighth Wonder of the World. This crater claims to be home to about 25,000 animals throughout the year while the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a whole claims to be home to more than 2.5 million animals depending on the season and used to be home to many Maasai and their cattle before they were kicked out. Within the Ngorongo highlands, there are nine volcanoes, one of which is still active. The ash and dust from the eruptions of these volcanoes has been carried by the winds to form the fertile soils of the Serengeti plains.

The crater is the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world. It measures 19.2 km in diameter, 610m in depth, and 304 square kilometers in area. The crater floor has permanent water which supports the large resident population of wildlife. Besides the grazing land, the crater also has swamps and forests which allow hippo, elephants, waterbuck, reedbuck, bushbuck, baboons, and vervet monkeys to live there. The crater is a dynamic and constantly changing ecosystem, home to animals such as wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, buffalo, eland, warthog, dikdik, jackals, lions, leopards, cheetah, serval cats, and hyenas.

We saw two different prides of lions in the crater. One pride walked between our safaris vehicles – which was so amazing. They were so close and we could hear them roaring and growling. It was the most amazing thing ever! We followed them as they went to drink water and watched as one of them fought with a buffalo. In addition, we saw a lioness with one of her children elsewhere in the crater protecting a buffalo that they had killed. They were calmly sitting there as we took pictures and watched them. Its amazing how used to cars the animals in National Parks have become. They are not scared of cars one bit and actually have been known to lie under cars and get some shade causing the driver to be unable to move the vehicle.

This crater is part of the yearly migration of hundreds and thousands of plains animals (wildebeest and zebra). They travel through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, into the Serengeti, the Maasai Mara (in Kenya), and then back into Ngorongoro.

That afternoon, we sped out of the crater in order to get to our campsite on the rim of the crater by 6pm. I did some laundry with freezing cold water which made my hands burn and was interrupted by a very close elephant spotting. The elephant was seriously maybe 200 feet away. It was just hanging out, drinking water from the campsite. Other tourists who had stayed in this campsite for a few nights said that this elephant comes to the campsite every evening to drink water. In addition, during our campfire that evening, we had some zebra come pretty close and visit us.

On Thursday, October 29th, we traveled from Ngorongoro Crater to the Serengeti Plains. As there has been a drought here in East Africa and everything is so dry we didn’t see many animals besides a few gazelles and vultures on the plains. The plains were exactly as they sound – very plain! They are extensive, flat grasslands, but due to the drought, there was not much grassland, rather it was more like short dead grass. Before crossing the plains, we stopped at Oldupai Gorge where the archeologists, Mary and Louis Leakey discovered the earliest hominid remains from 1.8 million years ago. Oldupai was first made famous in 1911 by a man looking for butterflies. Much to his surprise, he found elephant bones instead. In 1928, Dr Leakey visited the Berlin Museum where he saw remains of the fossils and bones found in the gorge. The Leakeys made their way out to Oldupai and spent 29 years doing archeological research. Among their findings were a 1.75 million year old hominid skeleton and a 1.5 million year old human erectus skeleton. In 1978, after her husband’s death, Mary found hominid footprints which had been preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 million years ago and were exposed due to weathering. These footprints were still intact due to the volcanic rocks and ash that hardened on top of the prints. The ash, rain, mud, and other weathering and natural occurrences created five geological layers in the gorge. The first layer (bottom most layer) is made of grey sediment and is rich for early hominid fossil remains from 1.8 million years ago. The second layer is 1.5 million years old and is where human erectus was found. The third layer is about 800,000 years old but due to drought and dryness, nothing is known about this layer. The fourth layer is 400,000 years old and is where human erectus was found. The final layer, the fifth layer is 100,000 years old and is where human sapien was found.

Mary has since passed away but every year, between June and September, research groups come to conduct archeological studies in the gorge. The research occurs during this time due to weather conditions and also because summer is the time when students are out of school and free to come and do research.

After stopping for lunch on the plains, we continued driving and came across some shifting sands. These are triangular shaped mounds on the plains which have accumulated ash from the nearby volcanoes and must have some kind of magnetic energy in them that holds them together.

As the drought is significantly affecting life here in East Africa, we had to change our next campsite plans so that we would not be staying in an area with tons of dead cattle. We stayed at our campsite in Soitorgoss for four nights – the first time in awhile that we have stayed in one place for a significant amount of time and didn’t have to pack up after only a night or two. While in Soitorgoss, there was not much planned for us to do which was amazing! It’s difficult for me to have everything planned out for me. I like to decide when to do things and not have to rely on other people planning things for me and dictating when and where I will go somewhere, but I guess that is part of a program like this one. Before arriving at the campsite, we stopped at a manyatta, which is a traditional Maasai age-set event in which the young Maasai men become warriors. As they were still setting up the event, we just waved and smiled to the children and basically all the rest of the community as they all surrounded our two trucks to see all the white foreigners.

We set up camp, which has become somewhat natural now (but something I will not miss by any means) and got ready for dinner as we arrived just before the sun was setting. Our time in Soitorgoss was mostly free time in order to study and catch up on the readings we were supposed to be doing throughout our safari which we were never really given much time to actually do. I had done a number of the readings but definitely spent a lot of time, actually until the night before the test catching up on all the readings. In case you were wondering, I did in fact eventually finish all of them. I really wish that we would have had more time at our other camp sites to do the readings as a lot of them were really interesting and would have been of benefit to read while we were in a specific area/ with specific people.

On Halloween, we spent most of the day studying for our final the following day. In the late afternoon, we celebrated Halloween by dressing up in costumes. About half of the group had decided to dress up as other people on the program and had drawn names out a hat for that. They surprised me in their ability to mock and dress as each other. Those of us who did not partake in that dressed up as: a superb starling (a bird here in East Africa), a Kool Aid man, and a cheetah (me). Of course, a number of people didn’t dress up as we had a lot of work to do but I decided that I needed an hour break and I think it was much needed and worth it.

On the morning of November 1st, we took our biology final. This means that the General Culture group is now done with our biology course and has one International Studies course left to complete during the last three weeks of our program.

I just keep thinking back to the Lion King. I never realized how much of that movie was really based on things that we have seen and experienced here in East Africa. I can’t wait to watch this so called children’s movie from a different perspective.