As we wrap up a very successful month of teaching in Tanzania, I find myself reflecting on our courses and what success really means. Success implies the accomplishment of goals. While there is no doubt in my mind that many goals were met if not exceeded, I found myself pondering other descriptors that might better sum up our experience in Tanzania this year. After some time looking through synonyms and other words to describe success, I stumbled upon the word achievement. Achievement implies success through effort, courage, perseverance, and skill. Thus, I have spent most of my long journey home to Montana reflecting on this year’s achievements on so many different levels.
Student Achievement. I am most proud of our students’ efforts and courage to take on such challenging courses for the betterment of themselves, their communities, and the outdoor industry. I watched struggling students persevere through teamwork and long hours of studying to successfully meet the requirements of the courses. The biggest achievement and success this year is a direct result of our students. On behalf of SOI, I would like to that each and every one for your efforts in gaining your new found skill and knowledge.
Community Achievement. The local guide and tour operators of Tanzania and Kenya that sponsored their staff in courses this year have not only shown a commitment to safety and training for their own companies, but also for the communities in which these companies operate. While the students may help guests on guided trips, the larger benefit of their new knowledge will be how they serve their communities and families in times of need.
Organizational Achievement. The commitment to high quality educational standards and the provision of such education by SOI and our partner organizations takes courage and commitment in a time of worldwide financial insecurity. Without the commitment of organizations such as African Environments, Janaam Peace Building, Wayo Africa and To Return, the amount of course offerings and student opportunities could not have been possible.
Instructor Achievement. The effort and passion put forth by Sentinel Outdoor Institute’s highly qualified instructor team was a large part of the overall success of our students. With over 100 years of combined outdoor leadership and guiding experience, I cannot imagine a group of instructors that could better relate and help students with the challenges of leading groups in remote settings and dealing with emergencies. My skills and knowledge gained from providing high level emergency care on a daily basis; Shikuku Ooku’s passion for sharing outdoor knowledge and his vast experience managing and coordinating rescues; Alex Lemunge’s local knowledge and Wilderness EMT experience; Rob Lindner’s international guiding experience and passion for nature and conservation; and Richard Beatty’s expertise as a long time tour operator and wilderness guide brought a wealth and depth of knowledge and experience second to none. I know that each of our instructors is proud to have shared their experience and expertise this year.
Personal Achievement. As many of you may know, I was involved in a life threatening car accident about six months ago. I spent much of my travel time to Tanzania worried about my endurance capabilities and ability to teach at the high level required. I knew that our partner organizations supporting this year’s courses had similar concerns. I am proud that I not only endured nearly a month of straight teaching, but I am also proud of my performance. I felt that I taught as well as ever. I am proud of this achievement and feel completely blessed to have been able to come back to teach again this year.
So, was this last month a success? I believe it was much more than that – last month was an ACHIEVEMENT!