First Stamp in my Passport

by: Kallie Sullivan

Having the opportunity to travel on a study abroad trip would not have been possible if not for the Bumper’s College as well as other scholarship donors. For these blessings I am extremely grateful. I applied for my very first passport and counted down the days on my planner. Explaining to friends and family why I chose to travel to Africa was the most challenging part of preparing. I found myself faced with the question as to “Why Africa?” This is difficult to explain. Simply put, I wanted to see something different from the sites of Europe. There will be a time in my life for that, but I wanted to see something that would change the way I saw my life. I wanted to share my days with people who lived a simple and harder life but managed to have so much joy. I did just that. I met countless individuals and families that inspired and challenged me.

As for what we did while abroad, the majority of our days were spent at Novos Horizontes, or New Horizons. New Horizons is a poultry operation that provides employment and nutrition for the impoverished Mozambique, and each group of students had different projects to help improve the productivity of the operation. Mozambique is a very poor country that is severely lacking in any kind of infrastructure. Dirt roads are the primary form of transportation anywhere with most families using bicycles to pedal heavy loads of lumber or produce to where they tend to go. Immense respect goes to the African mother who can carry a five gallon bucket of water on her head for miles while having a newborn baby strapped to her side. These people are strong and hard working, giving me a new appreciation for my way of life.

The days at Novos Horizontes were long with a lot of walking or being bumped around in the back of a truck, but we had wonderful excursions on the weekends. Seeing the beaches of Mozambique gave me the opportunity to check off a new body of water and to watch Dr. Keith Bramwell chase palm sized pink crabs across the beach. We kayaked in the ocean, sailed in primitive sailboats to a lagoon, hunted seashells, and toured the oldest European building in the Southern Hemisphere. Our last excursion took our group to South Africa where we went on three safaris, saw countless breathtaking creatures in a natural habitat, and ate the first good meal we had since landing in Mozambique. New foods were tasted (with repercussions of being sick for several days), new friendships were made, and the new experience of traveling abroad has deepened my desire to travel. I have now been to two continents other than North America thanks to our layover in London. The seven-hour layover was nowhere near enough time to explore, but I am grateful for the few hours I had. I am so grateful for every hour of this trip because I learned so much. I am very glad I chose Mozambique as my study abroad destination, and am so appreciative for this experience.

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A Summer in Mozambique

by: Ashley Rodman

Even though I had only traveled outside of the United States one other time before studying abroad in Mozambique, I developed the notorious sickness known as the “travel bug” somewhere along the way. After my experiences with the University of Arkansas’ (U of A) Faculty-Led Community Development in Mozambique Program, my desire to travel has not only grown, but shaped into a longing to experience new cultures while using my scientific background and expertise to aid those in need. The program allowed me to delve deeper into my academic interests by leading a month-long water quality testing project, all while working alongside other U of A students who also put their specialized academic skills to use and learning about a successful sustainable business model in a developing country.

The choice to study abroad with the U of A was something that I had wanted to pursue since transferring into the Bumpers College in 2012; however, the vast array of program choices were overwhelming until I became acquainted with the Faculty-Led Community Development in Mozambique Program. When I initially learned about this particular study abroad opportunity, I was under the impression that my major, Environmental, Soil, and Water Science, would not be openly accepted into the program. Soon after speaking to one of the faculty advisors, I found out that the opposite was true. In fact, the faculty encouraged me to apply. I learned that the program was open to all majors, and the faculty enthusiastically supported personalized student projects. Furthermore, the program would take place during the summer, allowing me to receive the last credits needed for me to graduate with my Bachelor of Science degree and return to the U of A in time to begin my graduate studies.

A few other students and I spent the spring semester organizing the water quality project that we would be doing while in Mozambique. We met multiple times as a group and with U of A faculty throughout the semester to gain expert opinions about how to plan our project and to purchase materials. The experience of developing a project allowed me to hone my organizational and leadership skills, as well as gain valuable contacts. Before long our group was boarding a plane to Africa to begin our summer abroad in Mozambique.

I did some light reading about the history of the country and its people before departing, but I was still unsure about what to expect when we arrived in Mozambique. I was soon immersed into the Mozambican culture as my peers and I hit the ground running working on our designated projects. Unique to the program, we worked with a sustainable poultry operation, known as New Horizons. Our water quality project was geared at testing different water quality parameters in the water sources used by New Horizons and by the company’s poultry outgrowers. While conducted our project, I learned about the hard work ethic and strong family and community values that Mozambicans cherish. It was easy to see that even when many of the outgrowers had little physical property, they were rich in pride for what they did have. It was inspiring to see the pleasure that the outgrowers took in their jobs and the respect they had for New Horizons. I realized the true meaning of “giving a hand up, not a hand out.” The outgrowers are improving their lives by their own wills, not by foreign aid or government assistance.

Learning how to cope with challenges that arose gave me insight into many of the things we take for granted in the United States. To start things off, a piece of equipment necessary to perform one of the water quality tests was lost in transit and was not available to purchase in Mozambique. Unlike in the United States, we did not have the option of using a laboratory or any sort of electronic technology to conduct our tests in or with. We had to carry all of our equipment to each water source—sometimes spaced long distances apart. We also discovered that purchasing water testing supplies, such as deionized water, was not an option. Within the second week we had used all of the deionized water I had brought to clean the water testing instruments, so we had to devise an alternate solution. Time management was another important skill that we soon found to be a challenge, as many Mozambicans do not hold time and the thought of deadlines as high as most Americans.

I realized the value of my education and educational opportunities in general while studying abroad. The importance of my education soon dawned on me when I saw that people were looking to me for advice about improving water quality in their areas. Many children and adults I met and saw were not given opportunities to attend school, let alone pursue higher degrees at a university level. It saddened me that there were so few educational opportunities, leading to a huge loss in potential human capital for the country of Mozambique. I will remember this as I pursue my master’s degree and draw on these memories to study harder and persevere in my field.

From traveling in Mozambique, I was educated about the historical background of the country and its past as a Portuguese colony fraught with ills of the slave trade. I interacting with locals in different regions of Mozambique when we haggled with venders at local markets, toured the streets of Mozambique Island, and visited an orphanage in Nampula. Our travels in South Africa allowed me to see the vast economic disparities found in many parts of Africa.

Overall, I am certain that the study abroad trip in Mozambique has shaped me more than I realize. It is my hope that my work in Mozambique was beneficial to New Horizons, the outgrowers, and the outgrower’s families. I hope that my work inspires future students to expand the water quality project that I initiated.  Not only did my time studying abroad in Africa allow me the opportunity to be immersed in another culture while having a multidisciplinary learning experience, it helped me realize the importance of education and sustainable approaches to lifting people out of poverty.

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Hakuna Matata

Post 5/5
by Victoria Maloch

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It means no worries for the rest of your days. So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Although I grew up on a farm and showed cattle, my absolute number one fear for almost my entire life has been chickens. I blame it on a bad experience with a 4-H Poultry Chain project, but that story is for another time. So there were definitely a lot of worries going into this trip. I didn’t know how I was going to handle it, but I knew that I had to get over my fear. Being on Team CrossFit brought me into close interaction with chickens every day and by the end of the trip I am happy to say that while my fear may not be completely gone, I am not nearly as terrified as I used to be! And let’s be honest, I didn’t have much of a choice but to grin and bear it since I decided to study abroad on a community development project that works with Novos Horizontes to help local poultry farmers create more sustainable business operations.

 

 

 

Reflecting on my time in Mozambique, I have realized the invaluable lessons I learned from the culture, the work, and the people.

The three most important lessons I learned are:

#1 Happiness comes from your attitude and who you surround yourself with, not what you have. Some of the happiest people I saw were those that had very little to their name.

#2 Work hard. You only get out of life what you put into it. Those that I saw succeeding in business and in life in Nampula were also the some of the hardest working people I met.

#3 Learning never stops. The Mozambiquans had a thirst for knowledge and a desire to gain whatever information they could from us that could help them better their production and business. I hope that my thirst for learning will always stay as strong as theirs. Maloch_Joy

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Pride Rock – AKA The Day We Stalked The Lions

Post 4/5
by Victoria Maloch

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After we said our goodbyes after three weeks in Nampula, we packed up our things and flew to South Africa. Everyone was sad that our trip was coming to a close, but we were also very excited to be going on a safari. As true Disney children of the 90s, it wasn’t uncommon to find one of us humming or bursting out in song to one of the Lion King songs. We couldn’t wait!

 

After landing in South Africa, we drove around three hours outside of Johannesburg to the National Park where we would be going on three safari rides. I was surprised by how cold it was. It was quite the shock to go from 80-90 degree weather in Mozambique to lows in the 30s in South Africa.

Our three safari rides could not have been any better. Our guide told us about “The Big Five” in Africa. The Big Five are the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the rhino, and the Cape buffalo. By the end of our safari we had not only seen tons of really interesting animals, but we had also spotted every animal in the Big Five except the elusive leopard.

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The most exciting part of our safari is hands down the day we followed four lions around (hence the title). The pride of lions was patrolling their territory. The safari guide was very cautious to stay out of their path and to allow them to go about their business. Even so, we were able to get as close as 30 feet away from them at one point! It was fascinating to see these creatures in the wild at such a close distance and at the same time completely terrifying, knowing what they were capable of doing.

After our last game drive we spent the rest of the time packing, thawing out our cold fingers and toes, and soaking in our last few hours in Africa.

 

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Do it with a Local

Post 3/5
by Victoria Maloch

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While we were very busy during the work week with our projects, we were able to enjoy Mozambique and spend time with different families on the weekends. Our first weekend excursion was spent at the beach with two employees and their families. The beach was absolutely gorgeous and had the most amazing sand I had ever felt! By this point it was really starting to sink in that I was in Africa and that I was going to get to live there for a month. It was a very relaxing weekend and was a great chance to get to interact with people that live and work in Mozambique.

Our second weekend led us to Ilha de Mocambique. This island was the capital of Mozambique for nearly four centuries under Portuguese colonization before the move to Maputo. We were able to enjoy the ocean on a sailboat ride and explore the island, including a tour of the fort at the northern tip of the island, which contains the Church of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, which is said to be the oldest surviving European building in the southern hemisphere. This weekend we were joined by the owner of New Horizons and his family. It was great to hear his story and his inspiration behind starting New Horizons with his brother.
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Team CrossFit

Post 2/5
by: Victoria Maloch

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While I’ve never actually done the exercise program CrossFit, I can only imagine that the workout must be similar to what the GIS team experienced walking through the bush to all of the outgrowers. As a member of the business team, I was able to not only work with outgrower data to help the business, but I was also able to visit almost every single outgrower.  We collected the GPS coordinates of their chicken houses and took down information such as their names, number of feeders and drinkers, and dimensions of their chicken houses. Some days we would walk as many as 8 miles visiting outgrowers and collecting data. Our GPS could track how fast we were walking and at one point we were walking upwards of 4.3 miles an hour. That may not sound like much, but when you are 5’ 3” like I am that means you wind up jogging every so often in order to keep up! Hence the reason our team came to be known as Team CrossFit.

Once Team CrossFit collected this data, we had the task of creating excel profiles for all of the outgrowers. We were able to utilize the data we collected and the production data we were given by the company to show comprehensively how the producers were performing and show if they were performing near the company’s projected production possibility and if they had the resources to produce more.

Alternating between collecting data and synthesizing it for over 180 current outgrowers and creating nearly 350 profiles for every person that had ever contracted with New Horizons, we were kept very busy until the very last work day!

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One More To Go

Post 1/5
by: Victoria Maloch

As I boarded the plane at XNA, I was extremely excited. Not only was I getting the chance to spend an incredible month in Mozambique, Africa, I was also getting one step closer to completing an item on my bucket list. With the help of our layover at Heathrow airport in London, England, by the time we landed in South Africa I had officially set foot on six of the seven continents! It may take me a while before I figure out how to get to Antarctica, though (Why don’t you work on that study-abroad office?).

Since we had a 12 hour layover in London, the small group that I was travelling with decided to head out of the airport to see the sights. It was fascinating to see Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben (not nearly as big as I expected) all  in person. The town has a great atmosphere and I would love to spend more time there in the future. We only had a few hours though, so after squeezing in all of the sight-seeing we could we jumped on the Underground and headed back to Heathrow.

Flying to Mozambique would definitely be my least favorite aspect of this study abroad trip. To get there we had to fly from Northwest Arkansas to Chicago. From Chicago we endured an eight and a half hour flight to London. Once in London, we faced an even longer 11 hour flight to Johannesburg. Finally, to cap it all off, we took a much shorter flight from Johannesburg to Nampula, Mozambique our destination city.

The rest of the day was spent settling in and relaxing before diving in to our community development projects. We didn’t know what lay ahead of us, but we couldn’t wait to find out. We may have been exhausted, but we were excited!

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