As the students arrived at Moyo Hill camp in the green landcruisers owned by the school, enthusiastic shouts of “Karibu Tanzania”, “Karibu Moyo Hill” “Karibu sana” filled the air. Karibu is a Swahili word that means welcome. Such is the generosity in Tanzania that they all lined up to welcome the students. The heartfelt welcome heralded the students to the life in Moyo Hill – that every moment counts and is a treasure.
The program is structured to offer the students the experience of being in school and in Africa. After a series of introductory activities, it was time to visit an open air market, about 15 km from Moyo Hill. Hundreds of people from the surrounding villages converge in the market and partake in a bartering frenzy, with items for sale ranging from goats, pigs, chicken, roasted maize, blankets, anything you want in your home is here. It is tricky for our students as the prices are not fixed and is not a fun game if you are not used to haggling, however that is the way of Africa.
Students have already become immersed into academic life in Moyo Hill. Summer I is an integrated course that gives the students a compounded perspective on wildlife conservation. The field learning is key to this as students experience the wildlife firsthand. Our first field trip was to Lake Manyara for primate studies. In no other place in the world do we see such huge aggregations of Olive baboons, and such an opportunity to study them.
A few days later, we were back in the field, this time studying birds. We searched every bush in Moyo Hill area, and after 2 hours we had seen over 20 bird species. For some students, it was the first time birding and we now have new birding converts, ready to wake each morning at 6:30 for birding.
Today we spent the whole day watching elephants, learning the tricks to studying their behavior in Tarangire National Park. Just as we were approaching some elephants down the valley, a cheetah and its three cubs were busy playing hide and seek, and teasing a waterbuck. There is never a dull moment here, and the first ten days have been a true joy, and a great learning experience, often beyond expectations.
Students watch a cheetah from a distance during an elephant study drive
Elephants happily drink in the Tarangire River