Chelse H.

First Place Winner

It was last year, as I was sitting in my AP Biology class listening to my professor speak of his thrilling adventures to Africa, that I received the piece of literature that would forever change my purpose in life. It was this very professor, Mr. Jaeger, who had given me The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell when I had displayed particular interest in his exotic tales. The book told the story of Durrell's true encounters in Cameroon while collecting animals in the late 1940's. It spoke of dancing monkeys, midnight frog hunts, and late night dances with the Fon (king) of Bafut. Needless to say, I was captivated. Durrell illustrated the river that "increases its pace slightly, squeezing itself between two high rocky cliffs, cliffs that are worn smooth by the passing waters and wear a tattered antimacassar of undergrowth that hangs down from the forest above" (Durrell 10). With that book, my spark for adventure was ignited and no longer was I content to amble through life with no purpose.

Even before reading this book, I had always been very involved in my school. My key extra-curricular was a group called CTEE (Cultural, Technological, Environmental Exchange). This organization works to send refurbished computers into developing schools in Cameroon and is spear-headed by none other than my AP Biology professor, Mr. Jaeger. Every two years, a group of CTEE members has the opportunity to travel with Mr. Jaeger into Cameroon in order to install the computers. It wasn't until I read The Bafut Beagles that I started to dream that I would be making that journey into a foreign land. The realism and adventure that I found in The Bafut Bealges inspired me to break out of my boundaries. Experiencing Africa has set ablaze my passion for helping others. Seeing the beauty that lies in the heart of the African people gave me a dream to not only work towards bettering the conditions of our global environment, but to work diligently towards improving the lives of our Michigan natives. Through Durrell's immersion into the Cameroonian culture, I found my inspiration to immerse myself in my dreams.