Home > ARK General > Reflections on the A Rocha Kenya 2015 Summer Field Course

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By Cyrus Hester…

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re wondering whether the A Rocha Kenya Field Course is right for you. Is it worth it? What will I be doing? Is it too long, too far, too short, or too close? I had the same debate once… Alright, maybe more than once. Of course, I can’t tell you how your course will go, but I can tell you how my time has been. Put simply: it has been an exciting, encouraging, and unforgettable experience. And, while I can’t say whether you’ll have the opportunity to watch flamingos burst into flight over the Sabaki River or watch juvenile lion fish swim in a tidal pool or hold a mangrove kingfisher, I can say that you will witness firsthand what caring about communities and conservation can do.
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The 2015 Field Course took us everywhere from the bumpy roads of Dakatcha to the brittle cliffs of  Whale Island and the swaying boardwalk of Mida Creek. We’ve assisted with research on tree regeneration, counted migratory birds, surveyed for illegal logging, and visited rural schools – where kids are continuing their education thanks to support from A Rocha Kenya. We’ve learned how farming practices can be amended to improve crop yields and reduce impacts on the land. We’ve also heard that the challenges for communities and their environments remain; be it in the form of poaching, fuel production, climate change, or limited access to basic goods and services. All the while, we’ve been nourished by ugali, chapatis, mangoes, freshly-caught crab, and kind-hearted friends. We’ve been lulled to sleep by the sound of ocean waves and woken by the chatter of birdsong. We’ve braved dense forests, busy city streets, and knee-high mud flats – with each step giving us a new perspective on community conservation.
As the final days of the 2015 field course tick away, I can’t say how your experience will be. But, I can tell you that this is a beautiful place with inspired, compassionate people who work each day to make a difference for local communities and the environment. I can tell you that I am leaving here richer in memories, hope, and Kiswahili vocabulary. Maybe the same will be true for you someday.

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