By Julia Zeikowitz
Well it has all come down to this week. Research, what a scary and intimidating word that is, especially if you have no idea what you want to research. Coming to Madagascar I had no idea what the course called “independent research” entailed. Once we learned what was expected of us for the independent research project, I still had no idea what I wanted to research. Some people choose to study lemurs, others planned on studying plants, medicine and other animals. I went more of a cultural anthropology route. I initially wanted to research how many students from the “My Rainforest My World” program are currently in conservation clubs. With help from the education department at CVB, I was able to come up with a survey to ask about: what factors influenced membership of the conservation club in a remote village.
When the time finally came, my guide/ translator and I set out for our hour and a half hike to the village we were gonna stay in for two nights. The hike was fairly easy, muddy, but not too bad. The most interesting part was right across from the village. A river that you had to walk through. Luckily enough I was warned about this river so I wore the proper clothes for it. I unzipped the bottom part of my field pants and took off my boots and headed into the river with my guide. Luckily it wasn’t too deep that day, and it went up to just above my knees. When we were on the other side we were greeted by all the villagers staring at the vazah, or foreigner (me). After a few introductions we went to the mud house where we would be staying the next two days. Later once we were all settled in, we started the interviews. They were done pretty quickly.
One of the highlights from staying in the village was going to sleep in the mud house with no chickens and then waking up with a whole family of chickens in my room. Another highlight from staying in the village was hanging out with the children. They were very fascinated by me and followed me wherever I went. Although we could not understand each other, we still enjoyed each other’s company and had fun. The full day we were there, it rained. So when we were leaving we had to cross the river again, that had risen. I had to roll my shorts all the way up! Little did I know that was the least of my worries for the hike back. The rain made the trail very VERY muddy. I was slipping and sliding all over the place and sinking into ankle deep mud. Overall it was a very fun experience and even though I did not need to stay an extra night, I’m so happy I did.