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Kenya study abroad leaves lasting impression

To get to Kenya, I traveled nine time zones into the future. When I arrived in the rural mountain town of Njabini, I realized that I had traveled back in time.

The economy was largely subsistence and the electricity grid was still miles away. But the lack of luxuries made the basic elements of life more enjoyable. Njabini has responsibility for the country”s largest water catchment. Local volunteers are committed to reforesting riparian zones and steep slopes to protect the catchment”s water quality. The contributions Kenyans extend towards alleviating social and environmental ills are impressive. I learned a lot from local conservationists, and hopefully my even-aged management models transcended the language barrier.

The ethnic tensions and poverty ailments that led to collapse after the latest election have made the re-entry to American life difficult. My admiration grows as I recall the individual conversations I”ve had with wonderfully optimistic and dedicated people, people who continually endure and prosper under hardships of a nature foreign to us.

by Matthew Piscopo

NOTE: Matt is a Forest Science/Recreation major who spent September to December 2007 in Kenya participating in a study abroad program.