Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 4 - > Safari in Akagera National Park (a Tufts Daily style news report!)

Tufts Students Enter the Wild
By Laina Piera
Sunday, May 29, 2011

On Sunday, the nineteen Tufts students on a ten-day service and learning trip to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in Rwanda went on a safari in Akagera National Park.

Akagera National Park, located in eastern Rwanda, is named after the Kagera River, which forms a natural border between Rwanda and neighboring Tanzania. The park serves as a protected area for wildlife as well as a location for visitors to see many animals. 

The Tufts and University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) groups began their journey to the park at 5:30 a.m. According to Tali Lieber, Tufts’ student leader, the ride was a good opportunity to socialize with other group members.

 “I really liked getting to know everyone in the jeeps,” Lieber, a rising junior, said.

Lieber also noted that the ride to the park was a great way to see life outside ASYV.

“It was fun trying to communicate with the driver and also driving through and seeing how people live,” she said. “We hadn’t seen that yet.”

Upon arrival to the park, the groups were greeted by Cecile, their tour guide for the day. Cecile was very knowledgeable about the park and its animals, such as that there are symbiotic relationships between animals that inhabit the same area. The students stayed in the jeeps for the safari and stopped to see many animals, such as giraffes, zebras, water buffalo, and baboons.

Lieber noted that she enjoyed being able to see the animals from the jeep.

“We’d be in the middle of a conversation and we’d see a baboon on the side of the road,” Lieber said.

Amanda Mendel (LA ’07), Tufts’ staff leader, noted that the baboons had an interesting feature.

“Their butts were metallic,” Mendel said.

Nate Glassman, a rising senior, had an interesting interaction with some monkeys.

“I was standing with Arielle [Maldonado] and we were doing our model poses taking some scenic pictures as well,” he said. “We saw a band of monkeys meandering across the hill which we had attracted because of our really bad singing. The monkeys stopped walking about thirty yards from us and sat in the shade of a large bush. One of the alpha monkeys decided to climb a tree and stare us down. As he puffed up his chest, he grabbed a weak branch and we heard a loud snap and heard the monkey dive-bomb out of the tree.”

The Tufts and UPenn groups made two stops on the safari, the first time in front of Lake Ihema on the Tanzania border and the second time for lunch.

In keeping with today’s kavanah, or intention, of the day, the Tufts students were able to form camaraderies by interacting with the students from UPenn as well as other students from the group.

“That day, I got to talk to a lot of people in the [UPenn] group,” Rachel Ganz, a rising junior, said. “Even if they are from a different school and have different backgrounds, we’re all here for the same reasons and if we work hard together, we can have fun together.”


  1. It was sunday afternoon when i met Arielle Maldonado at Kigali international airport boarding KQ to NBO Kenya... had brief chat and felt interested about the friendly lady with good ideas and comments about Rwanda.
    Despite the fact that we have different backgrounds, diversity some times has opportunities that make people network for common purpose that allows all of us live and work better and if we work hard together, we can have fun together.” the most important of all is "purpose driven life" for all of us as professionals.
    Ernest Mulisa

  2. Ernest, thank you for the kind comment. And yes you and Rachel are right. It doesnt matter where we come from, but what matters is where we go together. The world will be a more happier and successful place if we all work together as one. It does not take much effort to communicate with others, even despite the language barrier, it is still possible. I see Rwanda having a bright future and that is because the people of Rwanda have chose to leave the past in the past, set differences aside, and work together. I hope one day I can return to Kigali to do business or teach Chinese and entrepreneurship at ASYV so that Rwandans can do business with the many Chinese in Kigali. I will miss the beautiful landscape of Rwanda, but in my heart I know I will see it again.

    Arielle Maldonado

  3. Hi Arielle,
    Thanks for the supplement, once your back again i wl be the first person to pick you up from the airport...:) guess why? Networking helps to make life and work easier. i wl be greatful to see you again.