These are some of the incredible things, snorkeling with whale sharks on Christmas Day and it just sounds wonderful. But, of course, Africa has challenges. What are some of the challenges? Rachel: First I just want to say I really appreciate you asking about those positive things. I think a lot of times the assumption is it must be so hard to live in Africa.
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It must be so scary. I really am thankful that you asked about the good and the beautiful as a first assumption. So, there are different challenges. In the beginning, it was a lot of loneliness and total overwhelm because things were so different from my suburban Minnesota upbringing.
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I loved the opportunity to learn and explore but it also got easily overwhelming. I was often just exhausted from language study or humiliated by making some ridiculous cultural faux pas. At the beginning, that was the challenge and always overriding everything is the heat. It is a very hot country so in the summer temperatures can get up to which would be I think about Up to 50 it can be past 50 even. I will never be local.
I think there can be an idealism about that when you move abroad. I just love it. It helps me clear my mind. I love to experience a place by running through a new city or a new country and just seeing what I can smell or see or hear on the run. And I was taking my cues from the local population more than from the foreigners just so I could learn what was appropriate locally. I spent a couple of years watching and asking questions , which are two keys for people moving to a new place.
It would be a little strange for a white woman to run but I think it would be safe. So I just slowly started doing it. I learned which sections of town I could do it and I learned what to wear instead of bringing my American assumptions to all of that. I just let the local realities influence my decisions. In , I and another woman started the only all-girls running club in Djibouti.
Rachel: It was our goal was to help these girls run and to keep them in school. They came mostly from very low-income families and some of them had never been in school in their life. So our goal was to get them and keep them in school. And then to have them run to build community. Doing it alongside them also really helped me see that I would be comfortable with what they feel comfortable with and I would take my cues from them.
In our second year, we had a young woman join the team. Her name is Nazareth. And then two years ago she actually started coaching the team. That feels like an incredible opportunity to be part of that in this culture and to watch someone like her really grow and take running on for herself. All that kind of comes back to learning with and from the community, which I think is essential for anyone living abroad.
They probably thought you were mad going running in that heat, even in the dark, I presume in the early morning or something, which is incredible. Back on what you initially said about the beauty of the place. I went to school in Malawi, which is a country in Central Africa, further south and slightly west from where you are. And for me, it was always a positive experience. There are no negative memories for me from going to school there at eight and nine. And then we went back when I was in my early teens so that to me is a default position with Africa.
I do have to say on that, there are two questions I have around practical things if people are traveling to Africa. Vaccinations and malaria are two things to consider. Rachel: There are not any specific requirements, no.
We do have malaria. Dengue fever is more something that we deal with there. You just have to suffer through it. We do a lot of preventative stuff.
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Some people use mosquito nets. I hate mosquito nets. I just cannot sleep under one. Also, the heat is a factor. But mosquito spray and making sure your house is screened off , things like that. But definitely in other places, malaria is an issue. There is no Ebola where we are.
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The other thing is the Internet. Often now we are relying on the Internet for things like google maps and things like that. You can watch movies, but sometimes you have to let it buffer for a while before you can get stuff. You can definitely Google map. You just have to go by landmarks and direct people or just go get them. Even things like getting a coffee, which you recommend some places. When we first went there, there were very few places that especially a woman could go and just sit and work or be out and about in a cafe. But now, there are so many options and I need to update the book for because we actually have a shopping mall that has even a movie theater.
We have actually a movie theater in Djibouti so there are great cafes around. Rachel: So you had not heard the term before. But a TSK or a third culture kid is any person who has spent significant years of their childhood growing up outside their passport country. Those formative early years were all for me in the United States. My kids are kind of American, kind of Djiboutian but they have this other way of being. That forms a third culture or is referred to as a third culture.
A lot of times kids like that connect really well with other kids who have grown up abroad.
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For example, I have year-old twins and so last year was their first year of university in the United States. And they both were naturally drawn to international students or other kids who have grown up in other places not necessarily the same place as them.
My daughter has a good friend who is Australian, though was actually raised in Malawi. They met in Kenya. They connected because they understand this feeling of being between worlds or being part of many worlds. So TCKs, there are some really positive, incredible experiences about it, like you said, growing up and having such a positive experience in Malawi. My kids have this open-mindedness to the world.
They speak fluent French because they were raised in a French educational system. They really understand and are able to navigate different kinds of cross-cultural relationships or cross-religious relationships.
The now-dessicated northern strip of Africa was once green and alive, pocked with lakes, rivers, grasslands and even forests. So where did all that water go? In a new study in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science , Wright set out to argue that humans could be the answer to a question that has plagued archaeologists and paleoecologists for years. The Sahara has long been subject to periodic bouts of humidity and aridity. With more rain, the region gets more greenery and rivers and lakes.
All this has been known for decades. But between 8, and 4, years ago, something strange happened: The transition from humid to dry happened far more rapidly in some areas than could be explained by the orbital precession alone, resulting in the Sahara Desert as we know it today.
As Wright pored the archaeological and environmental data mostly sediment cores and pollen records, all dated to the same time period , he noticed what seemed like a pattern. It was as if, every time humans and their goats and cattle hopscotched across the grasslands, they had turned everything to scrub and desert in their wake. Wright thinks this is exactly what happened. He suggests this may have triggered the end of the humid period more abruptly than can be explained by the orbital changes.