Name: Laura Zuelch
School: University of Vermont
Major: Wildlife Management
Program: Wildlife Management Studies, Tanzania
After finishing our classes and returning from expedition, we set our sights on our next adventure: Directed Research. We split into 3 groups, each under the guidance of one of our professors. In my environmental policy group, the eight of us came up with a questionnaire to use when interviewing local community members. In pairs, armed with only a GPS, a stack of questionnaires, and a local guide for translating and navigating, Maggie and I set out on our interviews.
The interviews allowed us to get a glimpse of everyday life in Tanzania, beyond what we see at a cultural boma, or even by the shops in town. We walked onto people’s properties, calling out hodi, can we come in, in Kiswahili. If someone was home, they would reply with karibu, welcome, and we asked if we could interview them.
The days were long. Walking in the hot sun on some days and the muddy aftermath of the rains on others was challenging, but the work was fun. The responses to some of the questions were unexpected. The children played with our hair as we interviewed their parents, and I was able to practice my Kiswahili and the few words I know in Kimaasai and Kiraqw, which always brought a smile to the interviewees face. So far, Directed Research has been one of the most challenging and amazing, crazy and exciting, exhausting and rewarding experiences that I’ve had here.