Mike Spiotta

Habari yako! I am a senior at GS studying Sustainable Development. I spent the spring 2016 semester in Kenya studying tropical biology, ecology, eco-hydrology, agriculture, and sustainable development! As a sustainable development major this was a fantastic opportunity to get some hands on experience in the field, which is something you really don’t get the chance to do here in New York City. This was my first time traveling abroad, and while spending 3 months in Sub-Saharan Africa seemed like a daunting task at first, the time flew by and was one of the most transformative experiences of my life—not to mention I made some incredible friends. While in Kenya we had the opportunity to study sustainable development in practice in a village just outside of Kisumu, Kenya in the western part of the country where we were treated to magnificent daily sunsets along Lake Victoria. We then traveled to the Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia County, Kenya where we spent the bulk of the remaining 9 weeks of the course. There we had the opportunity to live side-by-side with some of the most amazing creatures on the planet, which ranged from elephants, zebra and giraffes, to lions, leopards, wild dogs, cheetahs and so much more! Driving passed herds of elephants or towers of twiga (the Swahili term for a group of giraffes) was just part of your daily routine. For our Spring Break we also had the wonderful opportunity to climb to the top of Mt. Kenya (the second tallest mountain in all of Africa) where we were treated to breathtaking views and a sunrise I will remember for a lifetime. Thanks to this experience I am now reconsidering the direction I want to go following my graduation in May. Prior to this trip I had never considered doing conservation research, or research of any kind for that matter. I am now seriously exploring the option of going on to grad school to study conservation biology with the hopes of returning to Africa to study cheetahs and/or wild dogs. Kwaheri for now! And always—hakuna matata!