Thursday, December 9, 2010

community presentations

Yesterday was a big day here in Kenya. We gave presentations to the community about our directed research projects, the culmination of all that we’ve learned and done here in East Africa. The presentations went really well and we had a huge and engaged audience. We were asked some hard questions by Maasai. The coexistence of wildlife conservation and pastoralism (the main livelihood of Maasai) is a big concern and there was genuine interest in our findings and recommendations concerning how to balance livestock grazing in the wildlife sanctuaries that we studied. Even though I would not usually be a fan of speaking in front of 90+ people, I actually really enjoyed it. This is mainly because everything we said was translated into Maa so that our guests would understand what we were presenting. I really liked having to pause after each sentence so that Daniel could translate – it was definitely the most composed public speaking I’ve ever done! Other highlights of the presentation were seeing all of the local guys who we worked with when we collected our field data and hearing from major stakeholders in our research after the three groups completed our presentations. It was very informative to hear what people’s main thoughts and concerns are about the area, and also nice to hear from people who were truly appreciative of our work and excited to use the information we collected to implement improvements. here is a photo of my DR group and our advisor Shem.

Today we are packing, completing program evaluations, and receiving grades. It is hard to believe that we leave KBC tomorrow morning. It seems like just yesterday we were making the switch from Tanzania to Kenya! I’m excited to return home and see my family and friends, who I have really started to miss these past few weeks! But I will be very sad to leave East Africa, and will especially miss all the amazing people that I’ve spent the semester with. I’m not sure how I’ll handle all the alone time that I will return to in the US – we are constantly surrounded by people here and I am used to the constant presence of 27 best friends! We will definitely all keep in touch and are already planning reunions. In the meantime, though, we all have to welcome the close of one chapter in our lives and the beginning of another. It’s very bitter-sweet, but I think I am ready for a change. I look forward to reconnecting with many people when I get home, and sharing stories about what we’ve been up to all fall. Best of luck to all the people who are finishing up their fall semesters, wherever they are! Kwaheri, Catherine

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