5. LALIBELA: Heather and I flew from Addis to this obscure little mountain town which is home to 12th century rock-hewn churches, an amazing sight for Sub-Saharan Africa. This will need its own blog entry.
4. ANIMALS: We went to Nairobi National Park, the Giraffe Center, and Lake Naivasha. I saw lots of zebras, giraffes, cape buffalo, ostriches, hippos, and various birds and antelope/gazelle-like creatures. Next time I’ll have to find some lions and elephants. It’s very cool to see these animals just doing their thing out in the wild. Many have remarked that my photos finally look like Africa…Well, I guess if east Africa is all you know of the continent then that’s true, but I felt less like I was really in Africa since I was just a tourist. Congo is the real thing for me!
3. ETHNIC FOOD: It was a real treat eating out at a variety of restaurants. We had fantastic American, Korean, and Ethiopian food in Nairobi. We also delighted at the chance to eat Thai, Indian, and Italian in Addis.
2. OLD FRIENDS: It’s really fun that pretty much wherever I go in the world I get to meet up with people I know. Of the 35 people at the conference, I had already met 20 at previous trainings and seminars! I vacationed for a few days in Nairobi with my friend Angi who I met when I went on vacation in Switzerland a year and a half ago. In Addis I got to spend 10 days with my good friends Michael and Colleen who I knew from my summers at ORSIL. No one in my life is really stable—we’re always on the move, coming and going—so it’s always a comfort to cross paths again and see familiar faces. And within the organization I can pretty much count on seeing people again some day.
1. AFRICA AREA LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT CONFERENCE: I guess it’s pretty good, especially considering all the other cool things I got to do, that the coolest thing on the trip was the real reason for the trip. The conference was very interesting and helpful. My team came home with a big list of action items to pursue, new tools to use, and a whole lot of ideas to think about. It was encouraging to consider my professional growth plan and to glean from the experiences of others who have been doing language research much longer than I.