July was another busy month for me at Kasanka National Park. Over the last two weeks, I have mostly been working on the Art Contest for Conservation that I have been coordinating. We visited a couple of the schools to answer questions and encourage participation and then I went back last week to pick up some of the entries. Eight schools participated, five community schools and three basic schools. (A community school is funded entirely by the community, while a basic school is supported by the government.) We invited all of the schools; but due to distance and time we did not visit all of them. I hope that if this contest continues there will be more schools participating next year. The quality of the artwork varied considerably, with some truly terrible drawing and some that were amazing. We are actually have a showdown to pick the final winners out of 25 finalists. The pictures still needed a little bit of instruction, so hopefully by having the kids redraw them it will all work out. This calendar will be on sale at the lodge and internationally through Kasanka Trust Limited.
The other big project that we have been working on is a Science Club for young women. These women have completed Grade 12 within the last few years and we will be working with them in the areas of mathematics, science (biology, physics, and chemistry), and English. The idea is that by improving their knowledge and skills in these areas they will be able to either go on to college or get a job. In addition to these four women, some of the male workers from the park will be joining the lessons, especially in English. Of course, I will be mostly helping with the English lessons. I hope that we will be able to increase their speaking abilities as well as the writing and reading skills of the group. I am working with another member of the Community Relations Staff to teach these lessons. Unfortunately, I will be gone for the first six weeks so I will miss a fair amount of the lessons. We’re working on all the grammar and technical aspects of the English language.
The main thing that is coming up is my big trip to America! I’m heading down to Lusaka the 13th to do some last minute shopping and getting ready for the trip. I leave on Tuesday the 16th from Lusaka, fly to Johannesburg, then across the ocean to Atlanta, and finally arrive in Des Moines on Wednesday morning, local time. All in all, it is about twenty hours in the air, plus a few hours in between each flight for layovers. It should be an adventure, as it is only about the fourth time I’ve flown by myself, and the first time I’ve flown internationally by myself. I’m excited to be back in America, but also a little terrified. I have not been back to the States since I left in February 2009. I will back in Iowa for a little over a month, and will fly out from Des Moines on September 20. On the way back I will just reverse my previous flights, but with the added bonus of staying overnight in Joburg. I get to stay overnight in a hotel near the airport, but it also means I have to get my luggage, and go through immigration and everything alone. Not to mention I will have to get out of the airport and back to the airport all by myself as well. I have a few things planned already: a college roommate’s wedding, an open house in Corning, an ISU football game, and of course, my birthday is September 17th. The open house in Corning will be the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, at the Parish Center. I’m planning to do a short presentation and show a few (okay, probably more than a few) pictures. I’m excited to have an opportunity to share a little about my experiences with my friends and family.
The current president of Zambia finally announced the official date of the election last week. The election will be held September 20th, which also happens to be the date that I am leaving America to fly back to Zambia. I was hoping to miss the election and everything. At least I will miss all the lead-up and the actual election. However, I’m sure the results will not actually be announced for several days after the election – about the time I land in Lusaka on the 22nd. It is not anticipated that the election will go poorly or end violently, but you never know until it actually happens.
That’s all for now – hope to see as many of you as possible during the month I am home. I will be getting a new sim card and have a temporary phone number, which I will be sure to post as much as possible!