Connecting to the Land in Kenya | My Earth Changing Moment


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Connecting to the Land in Kenya

When I was in college, I spent four months in Kenya studying wildlife management and doing field research on human-wildlife interactions around the National Parks. I had always loved wildlife and the outdoors, so I went to Kenya because I wanted to learn as much as I could about African wildlife – the amazing, charismatic elephants, lions, hippos and rhinos that we all recognize instantly. But when I got there, it wasn’t the animals that taught me some of the most important lessons, it was the Maasai people. I had never spent time living and working with communities that were so closely tied to the land. Homes were built by hand, using mud, sticks and other materials found nearby. Food came from small farms, goats and cattle, upon which great symbolism was placed. Extreme droughts and flooding rains meant that access to food and clean water changed from day-to-day, season-to-season. The same wildlife that brought tourism and money to Kenyan communities destroyed crops and killed the livestock the Maasai people depended on. Living in Kenya heightened my awareness about the world around me, and how important the delicate balance between humans and nature really is. I came back from my time abroad wanting to know more about my own connection to the environment. Many years later, I still think about Kenya often, reminding myself that even though my Washington, DC community looks very different, I’m still connected to the environment through the water I drink, the food I eat and the many other choices I make every day.