Ndovu Trans-location Narok and Mara, Kenya 2012

I have arrived in Kenya, and will be here until the end of the year. I will be doing an internship or two. The main one I am doing is with Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS): the trans-location of elephants from Narok to Masai Mara.

I left Watamu on Friday morning via Mash Bus to Nairobi in order to report to KWS HQ in the Langata suburb of Nairobi. My plan was to arrive, sign, and get shipped out to Narok. God had different plans for me...the bus ride was long - over 11.5 hours can take a toll on your matako (buttocks).

The night before I left Watamu I found out that my MacBook screen went out (or at least it would not light up no matter what I tried) so I spent the day trying to contact Apple customer support (they do not keep Kenyan hours though, so that was a no go). As the day passed and the kilometers with it, I noticed that I was still too far out, and would not make it to the KWS office before they closed at 5 p.m. I called Kimutai (the gentleman who I will be directing my work as research assistant) to let him know. I should have listened to his initial advice and relaxed in Watamu until Sunday and reported Monday, but I was eager to get started.

I contacted a friend who owns a tour guide company and let him know I would need to make arrangements for transportation and lodging. I eventually made my way into Nairobi only to be halted by the usual traffic jams. I inched my way to my destination and was greeted by a good friend: Richie. He also happens to be the driver who drove us all over Kenya in February as part of the Kenya Study Abroad program; I can hardly believe that I made it back so soon. I was taken to Martin, the owner of Africa Veterans Safari (another good friend), fed, and found lodging at Acacia Camp, Langata, Nairobi.

I finally got a hold of Apple but was unable to trouble shoot the screen problem. The next morning, Richie had all day and took me around to get the screen fixed on my MacBook. Thankfully, there is an authorized Apple repair shop in the area so we didn’t have to hassle with trying to find a place. When we arrived I was quickly assisted, I told the gentleman the problem and he took the laptop. He turned it on and wouldn’t you know it, the thing purred to life, screen and all! I guess she just needed some Kenyan love - lol! Richie teased me and said that if I just wanted to see them and spend some time together all I had to do was ask.

I spent the day with Richie and drove around Nairobi, I tried goat for dinner (the flavor was a little to rich for my taste) and eventually we found our way back to camp. After Richie left, I did a little work and went to the social area. At 10 p.m., I headed to bed but got very little rest. Around 4 a.m. I was wide awake and heard music from the club next door calling me. I dressed and headed over for a Coke, relaxed for an hour and went back to my room to work on my Swahili. By 7 a.m. all the tourists were up and getting ready for their safaris, so I decided to venture out and have some breakfast. I have been talking with the workers and practicing my Swahili - trying to retain as much as I am able but often feel overwhelmed.

I have also had frustrations with the poor internet service and the sketchy portable modem I purchased. I am trying to keep in touch with everyone as much as possible through these blogs, my Facebook, emails, phone calls, etc. but I have to admit that I am extremely happy to be here regardless of how much I miss family and friends. I’ll keep posting, if you keep following...kwaheri (good bye).

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.

Pretty piggies bathed in sand; mine are on the right. Taken at Turtle Bay, Watamu, Kenya

I have been in Kenya for one full day but it feels like a week. I have been going non-stop - meeting contacts, making arrangements - and the hard work has paid off! I have official notice that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has accepted my request to participate in both their rhino and elephant programs! I leave for Nairobi tomorrow to sign on with KWS. Then I'm heading into Narok for elephant trans-location! I am stoked and exhausted. So much for taking the first few days as vacation; time to report in.

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.


Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study critical issues in conservation and sustainability, with special reference to biological diversity, development, and community-based environmental efforts.

Hello from the Coast province! We have been here at the Mwamba Bird Observatory & Field Station/A Rocha Kenya for about ten days now – everyone is working hard on their independent research projects while also learning about the myriad environmental and social issues pertaining to sustainability here on the coast. After passing through Mombasa for a quick overnight visit, we headed north a few hours to our current location.

Our days have been filled with group and individual activities – including two days spent catching birds and insects in the nearby Arabuko-Sokoke Forest reserve (the largest last remnant of a much larger coastal forest stretching from Ethiopia to Mozambique, and home to more than half a dozen endangered bird species), visits to the Gede Ruins monument (once a thriving Swahili community in the 1500s) and the local Bio-Ken Snake farm, and engaging in various activities with Watamu Turtle Watch, a conservation group sponsored by the Local Ocean Trust that focuses on rehabilitation of injured/sick sea turtles as well as releasing turtles caught in fishing nets back to the sea. We’ve also been taking advantage of our proximity to the Indian Ocean – swimming, snorkeling, and walking on the beach at night under the starry East African sky have become part of the routine. We have a few more days here before heading east again as we begin our long journey back to Nairobi and onward to the U.S.

You can read about all their adventures on their blog, Notes in the Field.


Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study critical issues in conservation and sustainability, with special reference to biological diversity, development, and community-based environmental efforts.

Hello from Lang'ata! We have crossed the equator twice in the past week - today we made the long trek back south to the Nairobi area from the Samburu region, crossing the equator again just outside of Nanyuki. We wrapped up our week in Wamba (Samburu) with some insect sorting work, a visit to a local home in Wamba, and a game drive today through the Samburu National Park. We had some van trouble on the way home, so arrived back in Lang'ata later than planned this evening - tomorrow we have another long day, as we'll head west to Mombasa. More later...

You can read about all their adventures on their blog, Notes in the Field.

Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study critical issues in conservation and sustainability, with special reference to biological diversity, development, and community-based environmental efforts.

We are here in the northern Kenyan region of Samburu, where we are spending this week at the Earthwatch Kenya Drylands Research Field station in the small town of Wamba. We are into our third day here, after a long 6+ hour drive north from Lang’ata – the last hour or so of which was across a dusty sand track. The landscape here is dotted with ancient volcanic cinder cones, and is scrubby and arid, with water conservation and quality central to many environmental and social concerns.

The station here has been the site of many community-based environmental research projects conducted by Earthwatch Institute over the past several years. Before we left Lang’ata, Dr. Nick Oguge (Director of Eathwatch Kenya, and President of the Ecological Society for East Africa) visited us and gave us an overview of the various research projects that have been conducted here. These include an ethnobotany investigation into the efficacy of various local plants as medicinal cures, and a project focusing on the conservation of an endangered zebra species. This species, the Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi), numbers fewer than 3000 in the wild now. Once widespread throughout East Africa, it has been driven to extinction in all but Kenya and Ethiopia, with most of the dwindling population residing in the Samburu region where we are staying. Our first morning here, in fact, we set out into the bush to look for Grevy’s zebras – and were able to find a small population within an hour or two! We also stopped at a local regional market afterwards and wandered among the stalls of vendors from far and wide selling their wares.

The last few days have been spent doing fieldwork – including an 8km hike in the watershed up in the mountains behind the station (part of the Matthews range) to take water samples from the river running down into the village (to test for pH., conductivity, and bacteria as measures of water quality), and a visit to some nearby subsistence farms to collect data on herbivory and insect biological diversity. We’ll do some more water quality testing and some insect sorting and identification over the next few days – then we’ll head back south to Nairobi and out to the coast!

Read messages from the students and all about their adventures on their blog, Notes in the Field.


Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study critical issues in conservation and sustainability, with special reference to biological diversity, development, and community-based environmental efforts.

Hello from Lang'ata! We have just finished up a week with the Green Belt Movement, and are back at their center in Lang'ata, on the outskirts of Nairobi. This week we spent a few days in a Chuka community (one of nine Meru tribes) near Mt. Kenya, enjoying time in homestays and working with the women in the local Kiang'ondu network of the Green Belt Movement. In addition to learning about seed harvesting, planting, and forest restoration, we all had a chance to help with daily chores such as milking the cows, cutting up arrowroot and other vegetables for meal preparation, and even learning how to pick tea!

From the Chuka village visit, we headed southwest across the Great Rift Valley to the plains. Today we wrapped up a two-day safari in the Maasai Mara reserve in western Kenya - saw plenty of wildlife (elephants, lions, giraffes, cheetahs, warthogs, topi, gazelles, etc.) and are now resting up back at the Lang'ata GBM centre outside of Nairobi - tomorrow morning we depart early for the northern region of Samburu!

You can read about all their adventures on their blog, Notes in the Field.

Environmental Science faculty members John "Buck" Banks and Jim Gawel are in Kenya with undergraduates during the month of February to study critical issues in conservation and sustainability, with special reference to biological diversity, development, and community-based environmental efforts.

We are back in Kenya for another month-long UW Tacoma study abroad course - this year I am once again here with Dr. Jim Gawel, and we have ten students from the UW Tacoma and Seattle campuses with us...everyone has come in from the long two-day air trip (via Amsterdam) and are settled in at the Green Belt Movement's (GBM) facilitieis in Lang'ata, outside of Nairobi. Tomorrow is a packed day - orientation, including an overview of the various projects that GBM (brainchild of Nobel prize winner Wangari Maathi, who recently passed away), a visit to a local giraffe sanctuary, and some lectures on Kenyan economics/politics from faculty from nearby Kenyatta University. We're also be preparing to spend some time in the one of the Green Belt Movement communities, with the Chuka up on the eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya. More later - now everyone must get some rest!

You can read about all their adventures on their blog, Notes from the Field.


The University of Washington Tacoma is seeking two to four UWT students to travel to Moscow and jointly produce an issue of The Journalist with students at Moscow State University. The trip is part of a competitive independent study that will take place during Spring Break 2012. The students will team up with students from MSU to write, design and produce a newspaper or magazine. This is a valuable opportunity for students interested in journalism and communications and for the campus as a whole, and is part of a program originated in March 2003 between UWT and MSU. Just from one brief week of working as a team, students from both countries learn about differences in journalistic practices, how one might determine what is newsworthy, and how one might decide the best way to approach a news story. In addition, important cultural differences are illuminated, discussed, and processed independently and together by the Russian and U.S. students. While students can discuss other cultures in their university classes, this type of one-on-one experience cannot be reproduced in textbooks or traditional classrooms.

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Just a reminder: the deadline for priority consideration of applications for the Argentina Study Abroad program is November 16 at 5 p.m. We will continue to accept applications thereafter but don't wait too long - there's only space for 12 students total. Students from all 3 UW campuses are welcome to apply.

The Argentina study abroad program consists of two courses:

The Geography of Buenos Aires (T URB 379 - Urban Field Experience) will primarily involve field work throughout the city, examining a range of topics related to Buenos Aires. Examples include the history and architecture of the city, social issues such as homelessness, environmental issues especially as relates to water pollution, and economic problems confronting the metropolitan area. The course will involve site visits around the city and include academic exercises on these various topics.

The program also includes a Spanish language learning course at the Universidad de Tres de Febrero. This is a beginner's course and will help students communicate with their host families and navigate the city.

For students with Spanish language skills, there is the option to do an internship with Hecho en Buenos Aires, an organization that works with the homeless and produces the publication by the same name. The magazine is sold by the homeless to the general public. Interns may work in the publications office or directly with the homeless depending on their interests.

For more information on this program and to apply, please visit our website.

Are you an undergraduate student or recent grad and interested in a career in diplomacy? If so, come meet the Director of the U.S. Department of State's prestigious Rangel Program, Ms. Patricia Scroggs. She'll be discussing the Rangel Program's exciting fellowships at two info sessions on Thursday November 17th. Both info sessions will cover the same information, so come to whichever one fits your schedule!

Rangel International Affairs Fellowship Info Session
Thursday, November 17th
11:00am-12:00pm (for faculty/staff)
2:00pm-3:00pm (for students)
Thomson Hall 317

The Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program provides benefits of up to $90,000 over two years toward a two-year master's degree, arranges internships on Capitol Hill and U.S. embassies, and provides professional development and support activities for those who want to become Foreign Service Officers in the U.S. Department of State. Fellows may use the fellowship to attend any good two-year master's program in a U.S. institution to study an area of relevance to the Foreign Service, including international relations, public policy, public administration, languages, or business administration. At the end of the two-year fellowship, Fellows enter the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State. Applicants must be college seniors or graduates looking to start graduate school in the fall of the year they apply, have GPAs of at least 3.2 and be U.S. citizens.