This morning we are leaving for Zambia. It is crazy to think that we have just gotten home and that we are already leaving for another adventure in less than 40 hours! The education crew has really cracked down as we try to accomplish as much as possible. I am extremely happy about the progress we have made! The units look fantastic, though I’m so sad I won’t be able to see them in action.
We arrived at Zikomo Lodge in the late afternoon. As we got closer to the lodge we slowly left the busy streets and villages behind us, gradually emerged into the safari. When we pulled up to the lodge we were greeted with drinks and wet towels by the staff, as well the owner. The wet towels felt amazing after the long hot drive, wiping off the thick plaster of dirt from our bodies (the only downside of driving with the windows open down the dirt roads). Victory, the owner, bought the land in 2006, turning it into a beautiful resort. After introductions were made, we were surprised by Victory with an amazing gift. Those of us who were supposed to be sleeping in tents were being upgraded to their newly built family chalets. I wasn’t thrilled at first, as I had been hoping to experience sleeping in a tent while the lions roamed around us. Once I took my first shower outside under the stars, however, I quickly forgot how I had initially felt about the change.
Once we got settled I went for a short walk over to the river to watch the sunset, where I found pods of hippopotami talking amongst themselves. As I watched the sun slowly set, I couldn’t help but make up conversations of what they were saying to each other,
Youngsters: “Call to the others, let’s go! We’re starving!”
Head honcho: “Patience young ones”
I laughed to myself as I took in the assortment of reds and oranges that lit up the sky. I have seen my fair share of beautiful sunsets at my family’s cottage, but as the sun got lower and lower, the colours became darker, lighting up the water as if it were on fire. It is hard to believe that there could be another place so peaceful, especially after coming from such an oasis in Livingstonia. However, in Livingstonia we were completely secluded. Sitting here, out in the open, listening to the hippopotami has helped remind me that there is still so much out there that we haven’t seen, so much out there that we have yet to experience.
Following a night of listening to the animals calling out to one another while laying in my bed, waking up at 5 am was far from difficult, in the hopes of seeing some of the animals we had heard that night. At around 5:30 am we left for breakfast. We had what the Zikomo Lodge guides called “first breakfast” which consisted of a quick bowl of cereal or porridge and a slice of toast with a cup of coffee before heading out. The sun was rising as we began our first walking tour of the South Luangwa National Park. I wish I could go into every detail of our day, but even going on and on would not give it justice. I will, however, give you a short description of the variety of animals we saw. Numerous baboons, who didn’t seem to be phased at all by our presence, pukus, a type of antelope that gracefully leap out of eye-sight in seconds and impalas, which are a darker coloured antelope. Hippopotami, crocodiles, elephants also graced our day. We also saw guinea fowls, a bird that closely resembles a chicken and a hyena who had just caught his dinner. Warthogs, all of which we called Pumba, as well as giraffes, zebras, cape buffalos, and many different types of eagles, all of which helped make this an incredible experience. Even though we saw a wide range of animals, some in our group were somewhat upset about not encountering any lions. I can’t say I didn’t feel that same way. Having said that, after an evening of sitting next to the river with the hippopotamuses and listening to a local artist and his band, I had time to reflect on how grateful I am to be here and how much I appreciate to have the opportunity of being able to come on a trip like this.
Today we left for our first adventure to Livingstonia, which is a village located halfway up a mountain. The 5 am ‘cock a doodle doo’ that normally wakes me in anger was a nice way of getting out of bed and shortly after we were herded out the door. As we drove out of Makupo, the villagers had already started their day. The group, on the other hand, was still groggy and ready to get more sleep. We did, however, watch the sunrise, but soon everyone was napping. As the others slept, I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the window. As we zoomed past what has now become so familiar, the landscape changed into heavily forested areas. My imagination began to stir up thoughts as to what one might find in such thickly wooded area. I later found out from one of my colleagues that the Canadian government donated the trees. As we continued driving past the woodland realm, my mind began to paint a picture of the fantastical world that might have been found within. My imagination brought me into dreaming of a town full of tiny people who’s houses were up in the thickly intertwined branches and the world below had unexplored portals where others had gone and never returned.
When we started to get closer to Livingstonia, I felt like we were on a roller coaster, going up and down, round and round. I didn’t mind, although when we reached the plateau of the mountain and the bus started to climb up the steep stoned path, my heart started to throb. I don’t think any of us had expected what was to come. Dr. Stonebanks made it clear to us that at any point we could get out and walk up. Our group took this as a challenge to be the first group to make it to the top together in the bus. At times you could see that some were struggling, as the bus made its way up the bumpy, uneven road. We pushed through, however, and I am happy to say we made it to our destination in one piece.
With the adrenaline rushing through our veins as we got off the bus, solid ground had never felt better. As we slowly recovered, we all walked down to the main seating area and took in the beautiful view. I wish I had words to describe the landscape but even the photos we took hardly capture the true beauty the land shared with us. After we got settled in, we had the most incredible dinner of our trip so far. Everything was freshly grown from the owner’s garden. We ate salad, sirloin steaks, and seasoned potatoes. There was a short moment of silence as everyone began to eat, taking in the old flavors we used to be so familiar with. We ate until our stomachs hurt. After the amazing meal, some of us went and sat by the fire while others went over to the bar. I decided to head back to our lodge to journal and reflect. Sitting on the porch under the stars, in complete silence, other than the voices of the others at the bar, I thought to myself that there was no better way to end the day.
I awoke the next morning in a daze, and initially I was not completely sure where I was. As I unzipped the tent I was blinded by the sun, but slowly found my way to the railing of the balcony and looked out upon the breathtaking view. I gradually made my way down to the main lodge to have breakfast, which consisted of over easy eggs, homemade toast with jam, and coffee. We had a relaxed morning, which I think everyone needed, before hiking up the rest of the mountain to see the village of Livingstonia. At Lukwe Lodge, I thought that the view couldn’t get any better; but as we made our way up the mountain, the scenery became a little clearer, and we could see across Lake Malawi and even more of the beautiful mountain terrain – possibly concealing the unknown creatures.
We have now been in Africa for over three weeks. So much has happened and I have found it hard to stay on top of everything because of the stream of emotions that are constantly pouring out of everyone. We were extremely fortunate to have a meeting where we sat down with all of the Chiefs from the surrounding villages. There were 31 chiefs in total. This means that there are 31 villages that will hopefully be involved in the workings of the campus. Here we discussed our projects that are happening within Praxis Malawi and how we as students from Canada will be putting everything we have into creating a site where everyone will be included and able to benefit from; whether it is the school, health clinic, experimental farming, chicken co-op or the sports field. The main conversation was about the importance of us working together in order to be successful. The Chiefs were very open and willing to discuss their feelings towards the projects as well as the contributions they are willing to give to help with the building of the campus. As the meeting was coming to an end, we set a meeting for every Monday at one o’clock. At this time, the members of the community can come and chat with us and ask any questions they may have about the campus. As we were walking back to Makupo village, the conversations were strong and hopeful with regards to the attendance for the following meeting.
After a very successful meeting, our education group has gotten together over the last couple of days. We have created an outline of how we will be dividing the units. We have gotten to know our co-learners, Francis and Maxwell. They have both been extremely helpful with the organization of the units. We have done our best to make sure that they will work with the different seasons in Malawi. So far we have almost completed five unit outlines. Although we are making great progress on the curriculum development, we have run into a few difficulties. I find myself up at night thinking about how we are supposed to come up with a curriculum for a school where we have seen that even though there was a Standard One curriculum developed, it was not possible to put it into action yet. After talking to the other members of Praxis Malawi I am slowly starting to recognize the importance of our work here, whether we see it or not. It all comes down to the bigger picture of making sure that the communities get involved in the project and helping them understand what the future has to offer, like this curriculum.
When we pulled up to the house we now call home in Makupo village, we were greeted by all the members of the community who were waiting outside of the hostel singing and clapping with the biggest smiles on their faces. It was a strange feeling as everyone hugged us and asked our names. I’m still not quite sure what the emotion was but it was definitely overwhelming. This feeling stuck with me for the rest of the night but when I woke up to the sound of the women’s voices in the kitchen, singing and laughing, I couldn’t help but smile. I have never been an early riser but the sound of their voices made me excited for the adventures the day would bring. I now spend most of my mornings journaling and creating a checklist of what needs to be accomplished that day. As I hear others starting to wander into the common room, I leave the warmth of my sleeping bag to join them all for breakfast and coffee and start the day.
Today, Themba, one of the co-learners, gave us a language lesson. I am still having some difficulties with the pronunciation. In regards to this, all the kids find it hilarious when I speak with them in Chichewa, but they are the best motivation as I want to be able to communicate with them.
When we visited the campus, it was nothing like I had expected; it was better. The land has been untouched except for two buildings: the Standard One (Grade 1) classroom and the teacher’s house, both a work in progress. When I first walked into the classroom, even with the unfinished floor, I started to imagine all the ways the classroom could be set up. As we walked back from the campus, a wave of excitement poured out of me and I couldn’t wait to start working on the Standard Two curriculum.
Over the past few days, I have gotten to know the members of the community. Getting to know the village members of Makupo has given me a better understanding of their needs and hopes for the future of Praxis Malawi. This is helpful to us in developing curriculum for the Standard Two classroom as we are better able to understand the importance of subjects and skills that can help lead to a healthy and successful life style.
Hello everyone! My name is Emily Parker and I am currently enrolled in the Elementary Education program at Bishop’s University. I just finished my second year in the program. I am someone that cannot stay in one place. I love to travel, meet new people and be active! My favourite sports are rugby and soccer, as well as skiing in the winter time. Some of my other hobbies include: cooking and baking; consequently I love reading as many different kinds of vegetarian, vegan and raw cookbooks as possible; seeing how I am a vegetarian! I have a big family composed of my mother, older brother, step-dad, two step-sisters and one step-brother (I am the youngest). You could say I’m one lucky girl!
My expectations in Malawi are not to have any too specifically, because I hope to take the entire experience day by day and live it to the fullest! However, I look forward to developing the Grade 2 curriculum with the 3 other education girls. We already got the chance to work together a little bit and it went very well; we fed off each other’s ideas wonderfully. That is why I am so eager to continue on this project with them in Malawi. I also look forward to developing my secondary research focus which is to create and incorporate a realistic nutrition component into our curriculum based on their local farming resources. All in all, I want this experience to be all about learning and sharing knowledge not only with the others on the trip, but with the locals of the area. Let’s be honest; I’M EXCITED!
Hey, everybody. My name is Xiaoting Sun. I am a 23 year old international student of Bishop’s University. I am from south of China—Guilin, which is a very famous tourist site in China. This is my second year in Canada and my major is economics. This summer I also teach some students Chinese. I am kind of an outgoing girl. I love traveling as through travel we can see a lot of things which we cannot imagine, and learn something which we cannot find in the textbook. You will have a fresh look to this world and also the people who is beside you. I like watching movie and after watching I like talking about the plot with my friends. I like dancing, work-out, shopping with friends, and beautiful clothes like all the girls like.
The focus of my research is about understand how a micro-loan project can help the local people change their economic situation and improve their quality of life. Moreover, what kind of financial help they really need. I am just excited and nervous about it as after tomorrow our fantastic adventure will begin!!! Hoping the people and animals like us.
My name is Megan Blair and I will be going into my second year at Bishop’s University in International Studies. I am someone who is relatively outgoing and I enjoy being around people just as much as I enjoy my alone time. I am a very active person and sports have always been an important part of my life. My favorite sports consist of soccer and snowboarding. I have a passion and a desire to travel. I have not been all over the world but traveling the world is definitely on my to-do list. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Haiti four times (on humanitarian trips) since the earthquake in 2010. That is where I discovered my passion for helping others and contributing to something bigger than myself. One of my favourite parts of going to Haiti is meeting the people and getting the chance to talk to them. I really enjoy making a difference in people’s lives and I feel like Praxis Malawi will offer me so much more than a simple Humanitarian trip. People have told me that you can’t go to a country expecting to change the lives of millions of people. But what I have learnt is that to the few people whose lives I may have touched, it matters to them.
Praxis Malawi will help me to grow as a person and as a student. It will be challenging and I expect it will change me in so many ways. I hope to embrace this amazing opportunity to learn from others – those traveling with the group and the people we will meet in Malawi. I am hoping that this opportunity as well as the chance to interact with people from such diversified backgrounds will open my eyes to different programs of study that may be of interest to me. As well, I am hoping to discover a little more about myself. I am hoping this trip will allow me to see my own full potential and what I can accomplish.
My name is Clare Radford and I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies at Bishop’s. I am in the program for Primary/ Elementary. I am from Ottawa Ontario and come from a big family of six. I am the second oldest out of four kids. I have an older sister, a younger brother and a little sister and my mother and father. My family means everything to me. They have been an amazing support system helping me achieve my dreams and I owe them an infinite amount of thanks.
I love meeting new people and being active. I have played hockey for most of my life along with many other sports and activities such as kickboxing, karate, rugby, swimming and water skiing.
My expectations in Malawi are simple. I hope to take every day and make the most of it. I am very excited about becoming as involved as possible in the program that has been planned for those of us on this project. As well, I look forward to being a student of the Malawian people and learning from the land itself. I am sure that this journey will also lead me to learn a great deal about myself as a Canadian and of course as just a person too. I look forward to developing the Grade 2 curriculum with the other educations students. Recently, we worked together to develop some of our ideas for the Grade Two curriculum. This experience was very productive and positive. I am also really looking forward in developing my secondary research focus of gaining a better understanding of how the educators of the Malawian schools as well as members of the surrounding communities may use the sports field that will be built on our campus. I am sure that this journey will be a real adventure of learning and I am very grateful that I will have this opportunity to visit Malawi with the Praxis Malawi program.
I’m a full-time sociologist (in training), writer and reader as well as a part-time runner, painter, poet, basketball player, music producer and boxer. I enjoy informed conversation. My favorite colour is forest green. I have a spectacularly weird family, a lot of stories that would make my mother faint and a keen eye for adventure. I was creatively named Ryan Moyer by my parents in 1989. “Ryan” was the thirteenth most popular baby name that year and apparently means “little prince” or “young royalty”. Considering neither of these descriptors are viable, I wonder why this name was chosen for me to scribble on my rent cheques?
Juliet begs the question of “What’s in a name?” as her intellect, heart and reason (no doubt fueled by a rush of rebellion and teenage hormones) come into conflict with her families traditonal knowledge and hatred for another family. If you don’t dabble in classic theater, I’m sure many of you may have seen the 1996 version of “Romeo and Juliet” (probably for the sex appeal alone, as it is featuring the equaly beautiful Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes) where Shakespeare’s answer to the question can be summed up with a romantic “not much”. Conversely in “Anne of Green Gables” the protagonist states that a rose wouldn’t smell as nice if it was called “skunk-cabbage” and, continuing their streak of stealing material, “The Simpsons” claimed a rose wouldn’t smell as sweet if it was called a “Stenchblossom”.
Both of these answers hold a certain amount of truth and prove valuable lessons, not the least of which being that great artists steal. Shakespeares answer of course asserts that all things akin are that way regardless of categorization, stratification or, of course, name. The second is that regardless of this likeness, language and social stratification do wield power, but, only if you don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. Are you curious enough? I’m trying.
Umberto Eco wrote an essay aptly titled “A Rose by Any Other Name” in which he describes the dangers of translating literature from one language to another, most noteably that there can be misconceptions and misrepresentations that occur during this translation. These misrepresentations can occur in the translation of culture as well. Formerly colonized subjects (Malawi gained independance in 1964) are homogonized and, as Franz Fanon writes, “over-determined from without”. With that, I am no longer willing to accept this type of informational artifice, hense this trip to Malawi.
What does the name “Africa” represent in my mind, and more so, what does the categorization of Africa as a “developing” continent mean? Most of my knowledge on Africa, prior to the preparation for this venture and some cursory analysis’ for papers, has been provided through Western film and broadcasting corporations. Moving images of death, guns, disease and, as the 1995 film “Congo” so terribly portrayed, deadly animals. The continent seemed so uncivilized and dangerous, with no explanation as to why it was in such despair and poverty. Why am I repeatedly being told such a superficial story?
So, to conclude, I depart in order to tell my own.