Time Capsule Letter
Though some time has passed, we wanted to reach out and say hello. By this point you are likely well into the school year and we are sure you are tired from jobs, schoolwork, and other activities. We have been there and know how tough it is but know that you got this! To bring some more light into your life, let’s bring it back to the good times we had in South Africa 😊.
Cactus killing. Volunteer service is not always the most glamorous thing, but the group made prickly pear eradication seem like a ball. Seriously, that was amazing to watch. Always remember to carry that positivity with you, because it will allow great things to happen.
Aside from the environmental impact you had, you also greatly impacted your other group members. To watch you all cry upon departure was both sad and beautiful. If you have not spoken to a person from our group in a bit, we encourage you to reach out and check in. We are all going through life and catching up is always worth it.
Reflection. Thinking back to those wonderful 2 weeks, we are sure that each one of you got something different out of your time in South Africa. It is also inevitable that you will process your experiences differently. To further help you reflect on your trip, we wanted to send along a friendly reminder about your OMG goal.
In case you forgot what we are talking back, think back to our last GLA activity. We asked you to create a goal you hope to achieve within the last year. How are you doing with that? If you accomplished it, great! If not, how can we further support you in your efforts to achieve it?
It has occurred to us that you may have completely forgotten your goal. No worries! Great change does not happen overnight. Feel free to start from scratch and create a brand new one. Remember, you have made countless friendships and connections while in South Africa. Feel free to reach out to others if you need ways to bounce ideas or anything else off each other. We are here for each other. Let’s accomplish some big things.
Courtney & Ash
Monday July 8, 2019
With everyone here, after a restful night in Johannesburg the group headed east to the reserve. After a long bus ride we excitedly pulled through the gates in the early evening.
After dinner and dessert the group discussed some of the important safety considerations with regards to the wild animals in the reserve.
The group headed to bed with excitement for the first full day on the reserve tomorrow.
-Ash and Courtney, GLA Staff
Tuesday July 9, 2019
Today was our third day on our trip but it was our first day exploring the reserve we are staying at. In the morning we woke to the sound of Impalas near our tents. We split off into two groups. Group A went on a Game Drive and saw giraffes, monkeys, and different kinds of birds including ostriches. Group A also found Ostrich eggs and a Wildebeest skull- good finds. Group B went on a nature hike. They saw Wart Hogs and learned about the geology of the reserve. Group B additionally discovered an Ant Lion and Rhino “dung”.
We all came back together and listened to Suzette give us a talk on Black Rhino Expansion Project. We then had lunch before Group A went on a Bush Skills hike where they learned about how to track animals and Group B volunteered to eradicate the alien species of prickly pears. Group A immediately went on another hike- the Nature Hike- and Group B went on the Game Drive. They found crocodiles, ostriches, and a Wildebeest. We ended the day with a traditional African dinner and a get-to-know-your-name game around a campfire before we all went to bed!
-by Angela and Jeremy
Thursday July 11, 2019
Dear Family and Friends,
Today in the Pongola Game Reserve, we started our day with a camera trap introduction from a Rhino conservationist named Suzette. She taught us how to set up the traps and how to properly capture the animals. Along with the photos, one can also determine many things about the animals for example how they eat, what they eat, and where they are going. The cameras give humans a fabulous look into the lives of the animals. Then, we went on a Game Drive in which we counted the game that we saw.
We counted the animals, determined their gender, and calculated their position in the reserve. During this game drive we saw Impala, Nyala, Warthogs, Crocodiles, Monkeys, Birds, and Giraffe. Counting the animals, you see on a reserve is very important for maintaining the healthiest environment that one can. After lunch, we went on a Bush Walk where we identified tracks and dung of the animals in the area.
During these bush walks we learn how to properly navigate the bush and how to tell the signs of every animal. After dinner, we went on a Night Drive where we saw how difficult it is to see the animals in the bush during the night. We saw many Impala, Nyala, hares, and monkeys. After retuning from this night drive, we went to bed.
Overall it was a beautiful day,
Written by GLA Students,
Tristen and Savannah
Friday July 12, 2019
Ayy yo! What’s poppin’ y’all?
Today the GLA students had a busy day. We had a scrumptious breakfast of quiche and toast. After, one group went on a bush walk, and did a fun contest (Jared won!). Team B was educated about camera traps and examined images of the wildlife on the reserve. Later, Team B did a game counting service where they saw zebras, which was new for them. Meanwhile, Team A participated in a team bonding activity which was a flamboyant experience for everyone.
Then the groups came together to have a hearty lunch of delicious, home-made pizza. At a later hour, Team A cut down some cacti and created two plump piles of dug-up cacti (They’re an invasive species). On the contrary, Team B went on a walk in the bush and was schooled bush skills. At 3:00 p.m., the entire group sat down and conversed at teatime. After a comforting teatime, Team A oversaw the identification of native species on their bush stroll.
During that period, team B also partook in eradicating invasive plant species. Dinner was a splendid combination of mashed potatoes and vegetable pot pie with a delicacy of peach cobbler for dessert. Following, team b embarked on a night drive to spot active wildlife. Team A undertook a hunt for scorpions yet couldn’t manage to have the claws grasp onto the stick we used to extract them.
Teo (Turkish Circus) additionally Peter (Yung-Garian) 😉
Saturday July 13, 2019
Today the GLA group started off by working with Suzette, a wildlife biologist, who leads the animal conservation projects at the reserve. She taught us how to use telemetry to track the radio collars on animals. Unfortunately, we were unable to spot the animals, but we were able to pick up their signals from a distance. The students then practiced their debate skills about environmental issues by discussing conservation issues on whaling. As intense as it got, the students were able to reach a compromise.
Next, the group sat down to learn about cultural norms of local Zulu villages and what to expect in the upcoming visit. During free time, students organized a self-lead a soccer game that got very competitive. To end the night, one group went on a night game drive to spot leopards and the other stayed back at camp to examine the night sky and learn about constellations.
Jared and Kyla (The Chicago kids)
Sunday July 14, 2019
On todays adventure we travelled to a nearby village to work with a traditional healer, beader, and other members of the community. To prepare for this experience, we learned about many of the customs of the Zulu people, such as their language, traditions, and formalities. During our time there, we learned about the mutti (medicine) of the traditional healer and her ways to heal the members of her community.
We also enjoyed a traditional Zulu lunch in the home of one of its members. Afterwards, we used mud plastering to insulate a home of one of the families within the society. We were able to connect with the Zulu children, dancing and talking with them. Overall, this experience was life changing and heart warming. Salanigache!
-by Sara and Lilly
Thursday July 18, 2019
Today was the last sunrise we would see at loose mongoose camp. We had a wonderful breakfast that prepared us for the journey ahead to Kosi Bay. Before we hit the road we said our goodbyes to the extraordinary staff. After two hours of driving through breathtaking views and through mountains we made it to our first destination of the day, Tembe Elephant Park.
On the game drive at the park we got to witness many elephants that were an arms length away from us, water buffalo, and herds of Zebras! After the exhilarating drive we had lunch at the lodge that was next to the park. Then we left the reservation to stop by a market for souvenirs and finally head to the beach. The stars were pretty they were bomb.
-by Caroline and Maggie
Friday July 19, 2019
When we woke up in our new home, the hot breakfast was late, so we just had some cereal and yogurt. Then we split up and half of us went on a 6-mile hike through many beautiful ecosystems and the other half went snorkeling and kayaking in the breathtaking Indian Ocean. The group that did not go hiking learned about traditional Tonga fish traps, and they speared a fish.
Lucas and Ty
On the final day of the GLA trip, the students were split into two groups, the same as yesterday. One group embarked on a 6-mile day hike while the other group participated in snorkeling, kayaking, and traditional fish trapping. On the hike, the group passed through 5 different biomes and climbed to the top of a sand dune in a challenging but rewarding experience. Despite the inhospitable weather and extreme wind, both groups made the best of their final day and had a fantastic time.
-by Maxwell and Jared