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Day 1 of our Journey from Mark Bodamer
We have made it to London! Everything went very smoothly. Some of us got a little sleep. Lots of the students are currently spread out on the floor snoozing. We have a seven hour layover in London; we have about three more hours to go; then a 10 1/2 hour fligth followed by a 7 hr. bus ride. It is a true “journey”.
Terminal 5 is new and very nice. Well, the last student to meet up with the group (Willa) has just arrived so all 27, going to Chimfunshi are here. We have 19 students enrolled in either a psychology class or a biology class (or both). (We offered three psychology class options: Comparative Psychology, Applied Child Psychology both at 300 level and also offered a 200 level psychology class called Nurturing Reverence for Life. The biology class is called Biodiversity). There are 4 TAs, 2 people that will be working primarily in Muchinshi for HANDZ (see link for more on HANDZ http://www.handzambia.org/pages/what.shtml), and 2 faculty (Dr. Mark Bodamer, Psychology and Dr. Bill Ettinger, Biology).
Time for coffee.
Sarah the T.A. Says:
So far so good! We are all excited and getting used to the time change – currently sleeping in bunches on the floor of London Heathrow. Students seem to be excited too! Can’t wait to be in Africa!
Greetings — I believe our students are now on their way home — in fact, just about to touch down in London. They will overnight at Lord’s Hotel (see itinerary for contact information). As I remember from last summer, many students did not check in until quite late (around 10 pm). Tomorrow most students will return to the states (see itinerary for flight information). You can follow their progress on Flightstats, which allows you to receive emails and text messages about when flights have departed and arrived. I’m sure you can’t wait to welcome your student home and to hear about all of their adventures! My Best – Molly
Well we made it to Livingston-Victoria Falls. We were advised to break it into a two day trip because the last bit of road (50 miles!) was in horrible shape. The reports were correct. Our driver Mr. Mafunda (the GU driver last year to VF) is amazing, but I felt sorry how hard he had to work to get through some very tough sections. I know I am glad I didn’t have to drive.
Victoria Falls and Jolly Boys have once again been very fun. I think the students have done just about everything possible, except prohibited bunge jump and white water rafting. We all went on the sunset cruise followed by drumming; very fun. Everyone of course also went to the Falls park. I went running the first day with a few students, we almost made it all the way to the falls. We did run into some baboons along the way. The trek down into the boiling pot was more adventuresome because there was quite a bit of water. The students all enjoyed the hike and climbing over the rocks, many great photos.
I went on a Jet Boat with many students, I figured I had to see what it was like. A few others went canoeing. The jet boat required riding a gondola lift down into the river gorge, it was beautiful. Reminded me if Hells Canyon. I thought we would explore the canyon more, what we saw was great. The ride was interesting. I think the students enjoyed it a lot more than I did. I think the canoe is more my style.
Just about all the students went on the safari bush walk, I did also. Once again it was excellent. We had the same guide as last year Tawanda. I think this is the best activity at Victoria Falls. We saw antelope, giraffe (1 week old baby), wildebeest, zebra, warthogs, many interesting birds (I saw a small snake!), and a rhino. We actually were very close to the rhino, it was very exciting.
We have all had good meals while here. Funky Monkey Pizza has been a big hit. My favorite meal was last evening. A few of us cooked a traditional Zambian dinner. Our teacher was Leonard Costa, our teacher friend from Muchinshi. I invited Leonard to join us for our trip and it was an excellent decision. He has added a great deal to the trip and I am glad to have had the opportunity to share all this wonder with my (our) long time good friend.
On the way here we stayed at Lusaka. Baobab College cooked us a meal and breakfast. I also gave a morning presentation to grades 2-6 in the Assembly Hall, it was a great. I met the new Headmaster at Baobab and he is keen to have more of his students travel to Chimfunshi. I also spoke to him about our plans to expand to a semester program as well as interest in discovering more ways to get Gonzaga students involved in Zambia. I think this will be another great connection. He agreed that he would also like more of his students to have the opportunity for interactions with local school children from the Chimfunshi area. We discussed my idea to consider having a few Muchinshi kids at the Center with the Baobab kids, all exciting. This has great potential! I appreciated his interest and enthusiasm to explore new possibilities. While at Baobab we also got to meet a little with Clarie, Gerhard, Abbey, Reese and their new baby. Our visit was short, because it was getting late. Claire came to the Assembly and Abbey was in the crowd. The Baobab students sang some great songs at the end of the Assembly, very uplifting.
Well are about to head back to Lusaka in about 10 minutes. We stay at Eureka, hope we get there in light so we can explore a little.
“We just had our second International School, Baobab College form Lusaka. They aren’t really a College. The kids were grade 4, most were 9 years old. Our students certainly have had a bit of variety in terms of visiting children. A few students helped the Chimfunshi gift shop for most of the day by making buttons and magnets; their help was much appreciated. Saturday and Sunday it looks like we may help scrape and prep the orphanage for a new coat of paint. The students are all eager to help “give back” to Chimfunshi; this really is a great group of students.
Looks like we may head to Livingston a day early and spend a night at Baobab College in Lusaka on the way there to make it a two day trip as opposed to an incredibly long one day trip. We are still working out details.”
Comment from Molly: I do hope it works out to break the trip at Baobab College – what another great cultural experience for our students! If that has worked out they will have left Chimfunshi this morning! (And, actually, given the time change, may already be in Lusaka). I will post any updates I receive.
Emily writes: “Hello! So we’re two weeks in…and we got our third school group last night. They are also international students and will be here until Friday morning. We also had a local school group come on Sunday-Monday and we had an amazing time with them. We only have one more week until we leave for Livingstone, but everything is going really well so far! We miss you all back home and will keep in touch!” Emily
Dr. Butterworth shares the following: “We have had a group of local schoolkids here and they were great–they did a series of dances and songs that are the real Zambia. They also recited poems they had composed. Here’s what that’s like–AIDS AIDS AIDS, you are a cruel man, you took my father, you took my mother, AIDS I don’t like you, AIDS go away. All said in a heavy accent. Tragic and charming at the same time. I have tons of writing material. . . The most interesting is the witchdoctor stuff–very prevalent and bizzare. . . I am a bit worried because of what’s happening in South Africa–the same thing as Zimbabwe a decade ago, and refugees are starting to come to Zambia–25,000 of them. Everything is slow here and we westerners are like mosquitos with our busy little hurrying. We had a huge Puff Adder up in one of the chimp enclosures the other day. There was an owl flying around the campfire last night. There’s this Israeli guy in camp who is an amazing cook and he is making us a chocolate cake tonight. Yikes!”
And Mark wrote to me: “Hi Molly, Time for a quick hello. Wow what a great group I have. They really are super. We’ve had two school groups and another arrived last night. I am waiting for the school bus to arrive here at the orphanage any minute. My Zambian teacher friend Costa had a group of local children from his new school here Sun-Mon. Lots of fun. Great singing and dancing. Students are settling into a good routine with chimp observations as well. The early morning time with the chimps is very popular. Genny had a baby a few days ago. Some lobbying going for a name that begin with G____; HMMmm? Students are having a great time at Muchinshi also. The evening reflections and sharing have been very special. We have touched the hearts of many. Fr. Lee’s advice to open one’s heart, to break it open to share and have a new level of love is truly happening.”
Just another update…Everything’s going pretty well. We went to Muchinshi last night for the dinner at the women’s center, and it was amazing! I think everyone really enjoyed it. Tom, Alecia and Katie all stayed and they all had amazing things to say. We are having another braai tonight at Sheila’s, so we’re all looking forward to that. We have another local school group coming on Sunday as well so everyone is excited for that also! More to come…
Hi Molly!Everything is going really well in Zambia. We had our first braii last weekend and that was a lot of fun. Billy hung out with us for quite a bit, and that was entertaining. Dominic was also running around so a lot of the students got to hold a chimp on day 3! We had our first school group over the last couple days and they just left this morning. It was an international group, and we will hopefully be having a local group next week. All in all, everything is going well and we’re having a lot of fun! We miss you guys back home and will see you in a few weeks!Emily
[Billy is the resident hippo who still drinks her milk from a bottle that Sheila gives her every morning! Billy hangs around but everyone gives her a wide berth! Dominic is the newest orphaned chimp that Sheila is fostering.]
Yesterday I got a quick phone call from Jessica (actually my husband got the call and passed me the message). Jessica reported that they had already had one school group visit - one of the International schools, which includes kids from all over the world whose parents are working in Zambia in some capacity. They had also been up to Sylvia’s (Sheila Siddle’s daughter) for a brie (BBQ). If the brie was like last year, most students went out to the “futball” (soccer) field for a very competitive game with some of the Zambian staff (they are very skilled at soccer). Others might have walked around Sylvia’s place, which is right on the Kafue river, minding the very large sign to beware of “crocs and hippos” (we didn’t see any but the sign was quite a sight itself!).
I also received the following from Dr. Beth Cooley (GU English professor whose husband, Dr. Dan Butterworth – Chair of GU English department, is also on the trip). Dan wrote from Cingola on the first day in town (Friday):
“Hey there–I am in Chingola, Friday morning. We arrived at Chimfunsi after many hours of driving on a day that started at 6:30 landing in Lusaka. Everybody is fine and only one bag was lost from the whole group. We saw Raymond and Sema in Lusaka and waitied for their very late bus with them before we left the airport. I am going to have my first driving experience on the way back–it takes about two hours or so to get here from our door, and over half of it is on a dirt road like the one to the Alfini place in Idaho–only worse! The countryside is hu\gely more beautiful than google earth or photos suggest. The temps are perfect–warm and cool breeze during the day, not too cold at night. I have a room alone in a building weith several girls whole share a room [clarification from Molly: Dan's roon is private - the girls are sharing the large room in the back :)]. We had a big meal last night–the time is strange and it feels like I’ve lost several days, which I have. Already the cultural immersion is fantastic since we are with people who work at Chimf. and who live in the towns around here or on site. Everything is very exotic and intriguing–my main observation is how alive the roads are–like the vein that keeps everything going. People are moving their bikes loaded with charcoal sacks or sticks or clothing or vegetables and the cars and trucks are playng leap frog and there are steady streams of people walking along the road with bowls and bundles on their heads, tools, huge bundles of sticks and the like. We saw Sylivia and a chimp she’s mothering last night, a weird flock of hornbills, white-bellied crows, herds of brahma cows we drive through–all very cool. I’m a bit surprised that I feel as good as I dusual fog of the human condition. We are getting supplies today, cell phones, etc. I am looking forward to hanging out and not movong for a few days after today. I slept well but in the middle of the night I reached my arm out and spilled everything on top of my table to a tremendous crash–who knows who I woke up with that display. I think that’s all I’ve got for now–it takes a long time to get on–basivcally phone line with the worst sort of anti-virus slow down–. Tomorrow I will do the chimp thing in the morning and take it from there. Plenty of food and some good stuff, like chicken pot pie inside a sort of tort like dough. Ok. I’ll write again if I get a chance–that would be next Tuesday probably.”
I will continue to post as I hear news of their adventures!
I believe that all parents have been notified that the group arrived safely at Chimfunshi. I got the following message from one of the TAs this morning (at about 11:21am their time — from the internet cafe in Chingola) so thought I would share:
“It’s Emily…I just wanted to let you know that we arrived safe last night at Chimfunshi and the whole trip went really well. We got to camp last night around 6:30 or so, so it wasn’t too late. The students did really well traveling and seem to be adjusting pretty well. Overall, trip went well and we are all here and safe! Be in touch again soon!”
Based on my experience last year here is what I imagine the experience for the students would have been thus far: After two overnight plane trips and a long bus ride (with a couple of stops in towns along the route), they arrived tired but excited and most appreciative of the hot meal waiting for them at camp. Some may have stayed up around the camp fire — most were probably ready to crash (I remember being so ready to sleep horizontally! – and boy, did I sleep well that first night). They awoke this morning, eager for their first hike up to the chimpanzee enclosures. Once up at the enclosures, they were most likely quite captivated by all the chimps they have read or heard about. Perhaps Brian met them first and walked with them (Brian is a very docile chimp who seems to like to walk with the group, from inside his enclosure). Next, they were probably greeting by a lot of racket and display by the alpha male chimps at the first enclosure. I am sure they met Pal, who was the first chimp Sheila fostered. They probably stayed at the enclosure until lunch time – the chimps are fed around noon and it is quite a sight to see (a great lesson is learning the behaviors of dominance and submission among the chimps).
Next, the students would have returned to camp for their own lunch and then probably out to the danbo (flood plain) to meet the children who live at the compound nearest the education center (where our students are staying). I remember that we stayed out to play with the children for most of the afternoon.
Since they are 9 hours ahead, I expect that by now they have had dinner and are sitting around the campfire, reading, or making it an early night. Emily and Jessica, the TAs, have made their first shopping trip into Chingola. They will go again on Tuesday, and probably escort a couple of students, so I expect to get another update at that time.