MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

June 8, 2014

From Zambia, with insight

MHS alumnus finds need for community

Bathing elephants, remote shacks and messy bananas are among Schuyler Carter’s memories of Zambia.

However, the most important thing the 2010 Muskogee High School graduate said she learned from her recent visit was “community.”

“In the country and the main three cities, there is still a big need for families and communities,” Carter said after spending three weeks in Zambia through Dordt College’s cross-cultural experience program. She returned Wednesday.

Carter is a senior agricultural major at Dordt, a Christian college in Sioux Center, Iowa.

“I just wanted to go spend some time in Africa,” she said. “I had no idea where Zambia was. And it was very much not like what most people would picture Africa to be.”

Zambia is in south central Africa and is a leading producer of copper.

Carter said she spent time in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, and smaller cities.

“There are cities with huge populations, but as you go out between the cities, you see the huts and the elephants. They still very much hold to traditions. There are 73 tribes.”

Carter stayed in a dormitory with two other agriculture majors and three engineering majors. The agriculture majors worked on a banana plantation, she said.

“We were there to do whatever was needed,” she said. “We tended to the chickens, fed them. We harvested bananas on two different occasions.”

She said she learned that bananas come from a flower and that each petal holds a bunch of bananas.

“I had no ideas bananas were so messy,” she said. “When they’re growing, bananas will have a sap that’s very sticky. The clothes you’re wearing when you pick them, you have to throw them away.”

Carter said she learned how Zambian agriculture is different from American agriculture.

“There is not nearly as much machinery there, and it is not seen as an important job,” she said.

However, Carter said “agriculture is booming.”

“People there are discovering you can be successful as a farmer, but you do need capital,” she said, adding that the chief crops are corn, soybeans and bananas.

Carter also had the opportunity to go on safari and see some of Zambia’s wonders. She recalled watching African elephants drink and bathe.

“We saw white rhinos,” she said. “There are only 10 white rhinos in Zambia and we saw five.”

She also got to see Victoria Falls and feel their strong mist.

“The mist looked like smoke,” she said.

Carter said she returned Wednesday with a different mindset about Africa. She said people tend to think that Africa, as a whole, is in poverty.

“But I found that not everyone is poor,” she said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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