Living experiences

Are you wandering how it feels to stay at Mkuru Training Camp?

Read the comments of people that joined us!

Vanessa, PhD student at University of Bayreuth, Germany

I come from The Netherlands and am a doctoral student at the Bayreuth International School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth in Germany. I studied before at the Universities of Amsterdam, Leiden, and Calgary. I have a Bachelor in Political Science, a Master in International Relations, and a free Bachelor and Master in Cultural Anthropology and Non-Western Sociology. I decided to focus my studies on Africa because I had never visited the continent before.
I'm carrying out a research project on “The role of stereotypical images during ecotourism encounters in Eastern Africa”, a comparative studies with a main site in the Maasai community near Arusha, Tanzania, and two smaller sites in Masai Mara (Kenya) and Bwindi (Uganda) near the Congolese border, in a Batwa pygmies community. I live in the villages in family houses and my work consists of participant observation in the tourism programs and doing interviews and Q-sorts with villagers and tourists.
One of the aims of my study is to identify strategies for breaking down stereotypes in both directions. The tourism programs represent a way for the two “poles” of the world to meet each other face to face, to come to better know and understand each other, and so open eyes on the tension that exists between a shared humanity and the issue of global inequality.
Staying with Mkuru community I learned a lot, not only for my studies, but also about important life issues.
The Mkuru Camel Safari, an initiative that started thanks to Oikos’ support, is one of the few cultural tourism programs I encountered that fully belongs to local people. Too often the income for tourism is flowing out of the communities that host the tourists. This research would be impossible without the support of local people who are generously explaining me their points of view and help me to collect and interpret data, as well as supporting me to meet all my physical and emotional needs.
August 2012, Vanessa Wijngaarden