Spending the last days in Malawi with wild elephants

Our last days in Malawi were spent at a safari camp inside of Liwonde National Park. I think it’s safe to say that none of us have ever experienced a camping trip like this before. For starters, it was in a Malawian national park. Secondly, there were no borders protecting us from wild animals and we were sleeping in elevated tents. Thankfully those tents were elevated because otherwise we would’ve been trampled by WILD ELEPHANTS. Yes, in the middle of the night and into the morning there were wild African elephants roaming through our campsite 20 feet away from us! It was the most surreal thing I have ever experienced and was better than any safari game drive out there. Ironically, we did go on a game drive that morning and saw lions, antelopes, waterbuck, and impala, which was also amazing but we were nowhere near as close to them as we were to those elephants (probably for the better). We later that day also went on a boat ride and saw hippos, crocodiles, fauna, and more elephants. These waters bring together all walks of life within the park and it was beautiful to see it in action. 

We just want to say thank you to the ACES Office of International Programs (OIP), International Food Security at Illinois (IFSI), Dr. Paul McNamara, SANE, and Lisa Sechler. We can’t stress our appreciation for this opportunity enough and recommend that everyone go off the beaten track for a while to discover things about themselves that they never thought they would. Zikomo! (Thank you)

This summer, the Office of International Programs is sponsoring three undergraduate Food Security Fellows who are participating in experiential learning experiences related to global food security. These ACES students are based in Malawi and will be blogging regularly during their experience. 

Specifically, the students will be working with the ACES-based and USAID-funded Strengthening Agriculture and Nutrition Extension activity to deliver a video-extension campaign to smallholder farmers. Working with counterparts from Malawi, our students will provide technical support for the video work and collect data to evaluate the success of the campaign. They will gain on-ground appreciation for how rural development actually works and how a development project functions. 

The ACES undergraduate Food Security Fellows are:
- Christina Fernandez, senior in natural resources and environmental sciences
- Kristin Iverson, senior in agricultural leadership and education  
- Anoosha Memon, senior in agricultural and consumer economics