As the semester comes to a close, we asked students to reflect on their experience. We checked in with SFS Kenya participant, Reece Pauling, to learn about their experience on the program. Here are Reece’s final impressions of SFS Kenya:
Why did you pick an SFS program? What were some of your favorite things (academically or recreationally) about your program or the country you studied in? What will you miss once you’re back home?
I chose SFS Kenya because of its program centering people in the narrative of conservation. While this was expected, I never knew I would grow a love for wildlife the way this program has shaped my understanding and experience with conservation. I knew little about the area or the importance of wildlife conservation here and now I am aware of different experiences from the perspective of community members to tourists, to the BIG FIVE. One thing I will take away from this trip is that wildlife does not have a voice and needs a voice in order to be conserved but yet people are a main component to this dynamic who also should be treated with care.
The most I will miss is my friendships that I have built with staff and not being able to laugh, joke, and share conversations with them in person. However, it is never a goodbye but always a “See you later”.
What piece of advice would you share with a future SFS student coming to your program?
If you are coming to SFS Kenya for a semester, your experience will be far from what you could even imagine. The staff is so kindhearted and intelligent. The wildlife is extremely unbelievable and the lessons you learn will take you so far in life. Come with an open mind and open heart and let your cup of joy overflow.
What’s the first story you’re going to tell your friends and family?
I will always remember my first experience getting off of the plane, being welcomed by SFS Staff, the long drive to campus, seeing a giraffe as my very first animal to see in Kenya, and being welcomed by Kilimanjaro Biodiversity Camp staff with happy faces and refreshing juice. This welcome truly shaped the trajectory of my experience and friendships I created over the course of a semester. Additionally, it made me feel at home away from home at the very beginning. Now I can say I have a second home with a loving family that I will cherish forever.
What three adjectives best describe how you are feeling right now?
Ethereal, Fulfilled, Grateful.
Photo taken by Anna Chahuneau
Curious about SFS Kenya? Click here to read more.