So far this semester has been a whirlwind of new sights, smells, foods, people, animals, languages, and studies. We have gotten a taste of African wildlife around the camp and on safari in Amboseli National Park. However, the most valuable experiences have been interacting with my professors, fellow students, and the local Maasai people.
Today we ventured out of Kilimanjaro Bush Camp and went out into the community to practice some of the wildlife management skills we have been learning about in class. We went to the boma (homestead) of a Maasai family and asked if we could interview them about their community and home life. The mama (Maasai woman) we talked to was incredibly welcoming even though she was very busy. She brought us out some chairs and patiently answered all of our questions in good humor. She did not speak English so we had a Maasai translator come with to facilitate our discussion. At first this seemed like it would be a problem, but our guide was so wonderful that even our jokes back and forth were translated and the conversation was really enjoyable. Eventually she had to leave in order to get to the market in time, so we thanked her and said our goodbyes.
The rest of the morning we got to spend walking around the area with our guide. Our group learned so much about the landscape, species of plants, recognizing animal tracks, and the people that are his neighbors. By the end of the walk, not only had we learned a lot about the area, but we had become really good friends with our guide. The most important thing that I have learned being in Africa is the more time that you spend with people that you think are different from you, the more you realize that you are very much the same. We come from very different cultures and deal with different everyday challenges, but in the end, we can connect on a personal level and learn a lot from each other.