Alumni Spotlight: Carol Dreibelbis

Carol Dreibelbis traveled to Madagascar with Azafady. She had just finished her first year of college at Princeton University in New Jersey, USA. She now works at a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., USA.

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Highlights: While my trip to Madagascar did not end up directly relating to my current job, it was an amazing learning experience. I was an anthropology major in college, so I loved getting to learn about the culture of the Malagasy people I met. It was an eye-opening trip.

I decided to volunteer because I love traveling and sightseeing and I believe I have the capabilities to make a difference for people in need. My day to day activities as a volunteer were fun. I woke up to a ready made breakfast and packed lunch. I organized environmental education projects and games for the local school children, as well as interviewed local adults on their daily habits to find out more about how they use the nearby forested area.

Morning: I wouldn't say that any day was typical in Madagascar. We were kept busy in new and interesting ways each day. We spent a few days in the city (Ft. Dauphin and Antananarivo, the capital), where we were able to explore the city and soak up the local culture. When we were out in rural Madagascar, we did a variety of conservation and education-related activities. On any given day we would wake up in our tents and head outside to get breakfast, prepared by a couple Malagasy women in our camp. Breakfast was usually rice and fried doughballs--the hot dough was great on a chilly morning!

Afternoon: Then, we would split up into our groups for the day. Some of us would head out to follow groups of lemurs, recording their feeding habits and other details about their daily patterns. Others of us would research the types and prevalence of different vegetation species in a given area. On other days we worked with local children on environmental education. We would usually pack a lunch of rice and beans to take with us--I loved the vegan-friendly food.

Evening: Once the day was over, we would return to camp, take care of any personal matters, have dinner (usually rice and beans, though sometimes there was chicken or other meat), and hang out as a group. At night, those of us who had energy left would go out on nature walks to check out the nocturnal wildlife.