Stephanie DeMay – May / June 2015
Concluding Africa thoughts and lessons:
1. I really loved seeing every sunrise and every sunset. They are such special moments that I’m usually asleep or inside for. I resolve to put more sunrises and sunsets into my “normal” life. Join me?
2. Sometimes it was our job to just sit. And wait. Sometimes for 1-2 hours just observing the same animals. Sometimes for several hours with absolutely nothing going on. I think some of the girls in my last group were often bored out of their minds. But really, how nice is it to just sit? Sit and listen to the birds. Sit and watch the stars come out. There is always so much going on!
3. These Wildlife ACT people are warriors. They work just crazy hours, 30 days on/10 days off, with a constant rotation of new volunteers every two weeks. If the people suck, they are stuck in close quarters with them with no relief for 2 weeks. If the people are awesome, 2 weeks is way too short before it’s time to say goodbye. I’m used to working ridiculous hours in the field, lab, and office as a grad student slave, but as I go forward into a real conservation career as a real grown-up, I will remember the commitment and sacrifices of these people and let that push me on to be a warrior and not an entitled whiner.
4. I love knowing what things are called. I was able to pick up South African birds and trees really quickly and it was really fun to learn about the bush. It’s too bad all that knowledge is now useless. I want to be better at my birds and trees and flowers here. I have all the field guides. I wish I had a guide though to go walk with me and tell me stories about things- that’s how I’ll learn it best. I’ll just have to try my best on my own. Knowing what things are makes outdoor experiences so much richer.
My heart is full. It’s sad to be back in the real world, but I’m super thankful for the experience and memories and people I’ve met. This was the best thing I’ve done in my whole life.