What makes you an "Explorer"?
Off the top of my head, I would say it is because I love going
to new places, and the more exotic they are, the better. It seems no
matter where I have been - the Kalahari Desert, the Mayan ruins at Tikal,
a house boat on Dahl lake in Kashmir - I am always planning my next
trip. (Something that drives my husband nuts, I must say.)
Yet, I think the real reason might be because I love a challenge
even when the challenge scares me so much I can't sleep at night.
It is doing something new, something that I have never done before
nor have any experience with that forces me to confront my fears and
be stronger because of it.
What other people have been role models and/or mentors for you?
I still remember the day my fourth grade teacher showed us
an article in a National Geographic magazine about a young woman who
had gone to Africa to study chimpanzees. I remember being so amazed
that a woman could do such a thing. This was a long time ago and, of
course, her name was Jane Goodall. I have followed her career ever since.
To me she represents someone who followed her dreams given great obstacles
and in doing so, contributed something significant to the world.
More personally, there have been many people in my life particularly
when I was younger who believed in me even when I didn't much believe
in myself. These people taught me to have faith that the future could
be brighter. They encouraged me and showed me through the example
of their own lives that there is much to value and much joy in reaching
one's goals and fulfilling one's dreams.
Why have you chosen to participate in this expedition?
For as long as I can remember I have been interested in ecology.
As a child I wanted to be a wildlife biologist and even studied biology
in college for awhile.
When I joined the Peace Corps as a math teacher and lived in Botswana,
Africa, I was as excited about the chance to see some of the largest
wild animals on earth as I was about teaching. I cried the time I
saw my first wild animal, a giraffe that crossed the road in front
of my husband and me. The big, orange African sun was setting behind
her and she was as large and wild as anything I could have ever imagined.
However, no matter how many safaris I went on or how many animals
I saw, I was always just an observer. On this trip, I will not only
get to see many wonderful animals, but by participating in this research
project, I will also help to understand them so that they might be
This trip is a dream come true for me really. It combines the things
I love most; conservation, adventure, technology, and teaching. I
don't think I could ask for anything more.
What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I think the best part of traveling - aside from learning about
new places and people - is what I learn about myself every time I go
somewhere. Somehow, being in a new environment where I cannot take for
granted many of the comforts I experience here at home and where people
often have different beliefs and life experiences, forces me to examine
my own life in a way that I don't often do when I am busy here. I am
always the wiser for it and I am reminded that as different as people
seem to be, we are more similar in the ways that are really important.
While traveling to exotic places is not new for me, it is a new experience
being part of a research team. I expect to learn a great deal about
river dolphins in particular and about the rainforest in general.
I also know I will learn much about the people who make the rainforest
What skills are necessary for this journey?
Tolerance and a sense of humor are probably the most important
things needed. This trip will require a willingness to forgo the comforts
that I take for granted in my every day life here in San Francisco.
I will also need a great deal of patience as I don't think river dolphins
appear on command.
Planning to transmit information from the Amazon has required that
I be very organized. Many pieces have to come together and many different
people are needed for this trip to be successful. Keeping everything
moving along has been a challenge.
There are also lots of technical skills needed; operating a computer,
using a satellite phone, building a website, digitizing images, etc.
The list seems to go on and on and new ones are added every day.
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