Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Year in Review

2012 has proven to be a little more exciting than 2011, generating some fodder for the blog. Here's how it all went down.

We celebrated Abby and Mike's joint 30th birthdays with the shirt that will live in infamy. The WWODBD? shirt is hands down our most popular. What would Old Dirty Bastard do?

Abby and Mike's Joint 30th

Cale finally finished building his Triumph.

The Triumph

And took it for its first ride.

First Ride on the Triumph

In February, we saw the Hackensaw Boys play again, and were sorely disappointed.

Hackensaw Boys

 We had last seen them in Orlando, five years ago:

Hackensaw Boys

They were very good then. Not so much anymore.

More importantly, there was Sprom! SPEA Dean's annual winter dinner, also known as the SPEA prom, includes dinner, dancing and fancy clothes. I even danced. Crystal and I danced a polka.

March brought another fancy dress opportunity, the SPEA Auction and Gala.

I volunteered to man a photobooth, setting up my camera in a corner with a backdrop and some props. In the end, the committee raised more than $15,000 in scholarship money.

Cale delivered his undergraduate honors thesis presentation: The Spread of National Self-Determination: Are recent events leading to the creation of South Sudan anomalous?

Cale Presents His Honors Thesis

Early in 2011, I joined a group of three other master's students and two SPEA faculty (Dr. Thomson and Dr. Wakhungu) in a project to develop a new SPEA study abroad program, ACCT International. Sarah P., Sarah Jene, Ruth, and I were honored for our efforts at the SPEA awards ceremony in April.

Flickr  Upload photos and videos

Things started to get a little more interesting in May. For example, I GRADUATED! Though I didn't attend the graduation ceremony. Sounded like a bunch of boring to me. Instead, I stayed home to prepare for the celebration we hosted for our friends and families at our house.

Master's Graduation Party

Just after celebrating Crystal and AJ's 30th birthdays...

AJ & Crystal's 30ths

...Cale and I headed to Kenya.

Amsterdam to Nairobi

I spent the summer in Kenya as the Student Leader for the ACCT International program. Cale, we learned, was a trailing spouse.

We saw the Kakamega forest.

Kakamega Forest

Set plastic on fire.


Met with a future Nobel Prize winner.

Dr. Joe Mamlin's House at AMPATH

Danced with giant puppets that taught us about family planning, or HIV/AIDS prevention, or...something...we are not sure.


Cale surprised me with a burrito party for our anniversary.

Ninth Anniversary Burrito Party

But we spent our actual anniversary on a ferry to Mbita.


Where we visited a local school.

Village Experience School

If you thought May was busy, just wait for June.

We met President Obama's step-grandmother.

Mama Sarah Obama

We hosted a professional development workshop (day 1 and day 2).

Professional Development Workshop

Cale had an interesting experience having a suit made. And I was convinced I had malaria...which turned out not to be true.

 We had a cross-cultural experience teaching the Mumias Sugar football team flip-cup.

Post-Game Dance Party

A bunch of terrorists ruined our plans to travel to Mombasa. So we went to Mbakalo instead and were befuddled by a greenhouse. Along the way, we filmed the joy of riding a motorcycle in Kenya.


Finally, at the end of the month, we brought all the interns back to Mumias for a mid-internship retreat. It takes a village to raise a child, and it took all of ACCT International to cut Dani's hair.

Haircuts and styles at Pam's

Cale and I put our Peace Corps experience to work and put on our very best 4th of July celebration for the interns in Mumias.

Fourth of July

The big deal in July, though, was our trip to the Masaai Mara, where the Great Migration was just beginning.

As ACCT International was wrapping up, we took the interns to Lake Nakuru...

and Lake Baringo...

and, finally, at long last, the baby elephants I promised.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphan Elephant Nursery

And then it was time to leave Kenya. Cale left 14 hours before me, and thanks to a Delta disaster, was still waiting in the Detroit airport when I arrived there. Five hours after touchdown in Indianapolis, I was at Teresa's bachelorette party.

Before we could celebrate my sister's wedding, we needed to celebrate Rob and April's wedding.

I began my job search while still in Kenya and had been very discouraged after months of nothing. Then, after an interview I thought I had bombed, I got a phone call with a job offer while trying on dresses for Teresa's wedding in the Macy's dressing room. "Hey....can I call you back? I am sort of naked right now."

Cale started his final year of undergraduate, that just so happened to be his first year of grad school too.

Then, at the end of the month, on Cale's birthday, we flew to the Bahamas for...

... a Very Chosillo Wedding.

I started my new job at the Kelley Institute for International Business.

We continued to go to Joe's and hang out with Cale's motorcycle gang, the Foul Plugs, on Fridays.

And to head over to The Atlas Bar for Happy Pig brunch and board games on Sundays.

As far as I can tell, literally nothing happened in October. Well, except, of course, this:

November brought Thanksgiving with Cale's family.

Thanksgiving 2012

We mourned an end of an era, with the very last Happy Pig brunch.

Cale's hair continued to grow more and more awesome, likely correlated to his awesome grades in his first year of grad school. We cannot say the hair causes the grades (correlation ≠ causation), but we can wonder.

The ACCT interns reunited.

ACCT International Holiday Get Together

And Christmas came for the Carusillos.

Decorating the Christmas Tree

We'll finish the month heading to Portland to visit our New Years buddies, the Rodenbergs

Tune in for 2013, when Sara leads her first summer program for high school students, and Cale (hopefully) heads to Washington for an internship. We hope to squeeze in a long distance motorcycle trip and some international travel as well.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ACCT International: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphan Elephant Nursery

Long before we ever came to Kenya, I promised some of the ACCT International interns that I would try my very best to find them baby elephants. Baby elephants were very important.

When we came to Kenya, I brought with me all the back issues of National Geographic that I hadn't found the time to read during grad school. Coincidentally, one of these NGs contained an article on the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, as NG explains, is
"the world's most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation center. The nursery takes in orphan elephants from all over Kenya, many victims of poaching or human-wildlife conflict, and raises them until they are no longer milk dependent. Once healed and stabilized at the nursery, they are moved more than a hundred miles southeast to two holding centers in Tsavo National Park. There, at their own pace, which can be up to eight to ten years, they gradually make the transition back into the wild. The program is a cutting-edge experiment in cross-species empathy that only the worst extremes of human insensitivity could have necessitated."
It was founded in 1977 in honor of the famous naturalist, David Sheldrick, who was also the founder Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. His wife, Daphne Sheldrick, established the nursery we visited
"back in 1987. Sheldrick is fourth-generation Kenya-born and has spent the better part of her life tending wild animals...She's reared abandoned baby buffalo, dik-diks, impalas, zebras, warthogs, and black rhinos, among others, but no creature has beguiled her more than elephants."
For me, visiting the nursery was an interesting display of the difficulty faced by charities when promoting their cause and raising funds, while also protecting their clients (in this case, baby elephants).  The elephants at the nursery are raised in the most natural manner as possible to help ensure their eventual reintegration into the wild. These are not circus or zoo animals, they are not meant to be trained of put on display. Yet, public awareness and an emotional connection are important to the Trust's advocacy and fundraising efforts. The compromise is they welcome the public into the nursery for one hour each day for feeding time. The entrance fee itself is incredibly reasonable (the equivalent of $6 USD), but visitor are welcome to adopt one of the orphan elephants or make a donation to the Trust. In addition, throughout the viewing period, an employee explained, not only the work of the Trust protecting and rehabilitating elephants, but also the conditions that lead to orphaned and injured elephants. He encouraged the audience to do what they can, such as not buying ivory.

Personally, I found the viewing period too crowded.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphan Elephant Nursery

It had too much of a zoo-like feel to me. But, you cannot deny that baby elephants are adorable.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphan Elephant Nursery

— Sara

ACCT International: Lake Baringo

Lake Baringo

For our second day in Nakuru, we headed north of town to another lake, Lake Baringo. We were supposed to make a full day of it and stop at Lake Bogoria on the way home (which apparently is home to lots of flamingoes and is volcanic in some way). However, we could tell the students were pretty exhausted. Instead we promised them a half day, with an early return to Nakuru, maybe for rest, relaxation, and a little shopping. Would you be surprised to learn things did not go quite according to plan?

Though no one had indicated how long the trip to the lake would be, I had Googled mapped it. Google said just less than two hours. I assumed 2.5 hours on the safe side. It took us more than three hours to reach the lake. I knew there was no way we were going to make it back to Nakuru early in the day if we planned to tour the lake for two hours, eat lunch, and then make a three-hour drive back.

To me, the most interesting feature of the lake was the effects of the recent flooding. Since 2006, the waters of the lake have been rising, submerging homes and other structures that were once on the banks.

Lake Baringo

This hasn't stopped some families from continuing to live in their homes, as you can see in the inhabited second story here:

Lake Baringo

People aren't the only ones making use of these submerged structures.

Lake Baringo

This lake was also home to innumerable birds.

Lake Baringo

My favorite was the fish eagle.

Lake Baringo

Our guides brought us close to the shore where the eagles had made their nests. Then they made high-pitched whistling noises and threw fish into the water to attract the eagles.

Eagles weren't the only animals we attracted with fish that day.

Lake Baringo

Sure, this was a rather small crocodile, but I still found our guide's habit of slapping the water near the croc to get its attention an little unnerving.

Lake Baringo

Seems like a great way to lose a hand to me.

Tune in next time when we finally make it back to Nairobi, well a fancy suburb just outside of Nairobi.

— Sara

ACCT International: Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru

 I left Kenya without finishing all my blogging. When I got back to the US, I got all busy not having a job and sort of abandoned all of my dedicated readers (i.e. Mom). I figured it might be best to finish off our adventure in Kenya before we take off for my sister's wedding in the Bahamas next weekend.

Lake Nakuru is a little more than half way to Nairobi from Mumias and most famous for its birds.

Our visit to the the KWS park started out with a little hiccup. We were under the impression that we had arranged for a student admission rate to the park. This is $40 USD, rather than $80 USD. The letter that granted the student rate never made it to me. I was sent an email, but there was no attachment. So I never saw the letter. Our guide to the park had it in his email and was able to pull it up on his laptop to show the park rangers. This is when the fun began.

First, the lady at the ticket booth said that we had to take the letter to the booth on the other side of the gate where they would do something. So we did. And they did. Wen we came back to the ticket lady, she looked at what they did and let us know something was still missing. So we went back to the other booth. They did something else. The ticket lady was still not satisfied. She insisted some sort of form was missing. The man from the other booth (who had accompanied us back to her booth) had no idea what she was talking about. After some confusion, he walked over to a desk, pulled a weird receipt book out of the desk and started to fill it out. But then, it appears, he was going to need all of the students' passports.

I want out to the group and gathered up all the passports and brought them back to ticket man. He pulled out a calculator and proceeded to do subtraction for each passport. Open passport. Type 2012 into calculator. Minus. Type birth year in calculator. Set passport aside. Repeat. I quickly caught on that we were determining student ages. "What age is he looking for?" I questioned? I could tell him. I knew everyone's ages. Also, you don't have to do math for each student. If we know the age, then we know the birth year they cannot have been born before (or after) so we just have too look at that. Clearly, I was being too sensibile.

I overheard someone say 33. Oh, no problem, I can tell you that none of the students are older than 33. Finally, after going through about half of the passports, the man pointed to our letter (remember, the letter that I had never seen?). It clearly stated that we would be granted student admission for all students 23 years and younger. Hmmm...well, you wouldn't have needed to do all that math if you had just asked me. I can tell you that all the students are older than 23. In fact, the two youngest students turned 24 while we were in Kenya.

So no student rate for us. Ok, fine. But we only brought enough USD to cover the student rate, $600 USD, and now we owe $1,200 USD. Ok, also fine. We can just pay in Ksh right? Wait, your exchange rate is 88 Ksh for $1 USD? That is insanity. We only got 80.1 Ksh when we converted our USD to Ksh at the bank. We were totally getting hosed on this deal. In order to save a couple bucks, I was sent out to the students again to collect all the USD they might have on hand.

Finally, after much confusion, we paid our tickets and were on our way into the park.

Lake Nakuru

If you remember, the Impala Sanctuary in Kisumu was really a terrible zoo. And the Maasai Mara is not an enclosed space at all, you just happen to be where the animals live. Lake Nakuru is somewhere in between. The entire park area is fenced in, but within that that fence, the animals just live their normal lives, mixing about, eating each other and such. This set up meant that we could get a lot closer to the animals than we did in the Maasai Mara, but it also meant that it had more of a staged feel to it.

We got a much better look at some lions.

Lake Nakuru

And we checked off the last animal we had not see on the Big Five, the rhino.

Lake Nakuru

I actually missed a lot of the driving around in the park, as I was asleep. Cale took all our Lake Nakuru photographs (which are some of my favorite pictures from the whole Kenya trip, like this one:)

Lake Nakuru

(Look at those giraffe knees!)

The night before, I got just about zero sleep. Our room faced the street and the traffic noise was constant and LOUD throughout the night. Plus it never got complete dark in the room, what with the light from outside and the hallway light shining through the required glass panel above the door. Why must all Kenyan hotel and guesthouse rooms have glass panels above the door?

After visiting the lake, the students trekked out to see the Menengai Crater and Egerton Castle. I took a nap. Apparently, the crater was pretty awesome, but I am not sad I missed the castle. Reports indicate it is a big, empty house built in the 1940s. There appears to be no reason to actually visit it.

So there you have it, Lake Nakuru. I am only a month behind in blogging now.

— Sara