Hello! My name is Gabriel, and I am a student here at SFS Kenya. Though if you have been following social media, saw me in Tanzania for our mid-semester switch. While there, we visited a few places you may know (Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park) and a few you may not (Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks). Add these to Amboseli, Tsavo West, Chyulu Hills, and a few others, between Kenya and Tanzania we have visited 6 national parks, 1 game ranch, 2 community conservation areas, and 1 very large crater. And all in just 2 months!
Don’t worry, we’re still students and had class while there, but I would say that our learning in class was so intimately tied to our surroundings. Learning about cheetah ecology after witnessing a hunt, reading about then actually seeing how farmers protect their crops from animals, and hearing from people directly about how they make a living despite long periods of drought. These are a tiny sample of the ways we have learned from our classroom itself, which I think is a huge reason this semester will stand out in my memory for years to come.
Aside from our classroom teaching us about itself, it has also shown us a lot about ourselves in how we interact with it and the other people around us. Being a kind of student-tourist hybrid, we get to visit incredible parks and see the magnificent landscapes and wildlife of East Africa. We also learn about the history of these parks and some of the problems with their founding and current operation. I did expect to learn about this balancing act performed within conservation between tourists, governments, and local people; but I have been surprised by how thoroughly we have critiqued the current state of things. I think it’s safe to say that what we are learning, including the good and bad of many subjects, we are learning in unforgettable ways.