The main reason I chose the Zambia and Botswana study abroad was the difficulty finding a science related faculty-led study abroad. I chose this trip because I am a biology major and have an interest in wildlife. While on this trip, and after more thought I realized the importance of certain species of wildlife as a food resource, and began to ponder the science and ethics behind managing a common pool resource. There are certain animals that it is treasonous to poach and others abundant enough to hunt like deer in Montana. If too much is taken from this common pool, everyone suffers for a small group’s short term gain. Properly managing a common pool resource allows everyone to benefit in the long term. The science in managing such a resource involves establishing a sustainable target population number of a species and setting up the proper methods of management. One reason I made this connection is that food is a big issue that I care about. A career goal of mine is to use science to be sure everyone in the world is fed. I believe that through proper use, management and consumption, we can ensure that every one gets fed and that everyone can afford to be fed without giving up other basic human amenities.
On top of an interest in food, I am also studying to be a biologist. One of the most exciting parts of my trip to Zambia and Botswana, and the biggest draw for most visitors to this area, was seeing the wildlife. The variety of animals appearing daily during my trip was breathtaking. I saw a herd of elephants swim across the Zambezi River and was no more than 10 feet away from a juvenile Marshall Eagle. The first night we stayed in Chobe National Park in Botswana, I fell asleep listening to lion calls, and on the third night was serenaded by hyenas. I even saw a baby White Rhino in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. A truly memorable experience I would recommend to anyone that has an interest or passion for wildlife. It is these sorts of experiences that generate much of the most sustainable revenue for the African economies. This is one important reason why the government and non-government agencies are now putting so much effort into conservation work. They want to maintain the revenue stream generated by that particular kind of tourism and also ensure that their descendants can benefit from it as well. The African people, villages and governments can benefit from protecting the local sites and wildlife.
For my beyond the classroom experience I went to Zambia in Africa. Prior to this trip I have never spent more than a few days in another country. This experience was the first time I truly experienced a culture different than my own. It was amazing seeing all of the differences as well as all of the similarities between that country and my own. It was also interesting seeing the food and the culture of food in Zambia. The reason I find it so interesting is that food and sustainable ways of using and cultivating it is one of the main issues I hope to address in my career. One of the most heartening things that I saw on this trip involved the school and preschool programs. The main reason that this impacted me so much is that these programs and schools work with NGOs (non-government organizations) and philanthropic individuals to ensure that the kids in their care have a decent nutritious lunch, seven days a week. Another reason I was impressed with the school my group visited was that it was built to teach its students conservation on top of their basic all around education. I wish more of the schools in the U.S. were more concerned about teaching conservation to their students.