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Hey Madagascar pals!

Hey everyone! I’m Soleil (pronounced so-lay) and I’m a rising senior from Massachusetts. I’m quite excited to go on the trip and hopefully get away from my poor weather for a little while. It’s humid, cloudy, and we’re expecting some thunderstorms for the next week. I’m ready for some drier weather. As far as the temperature, I almost laughed over the phone when I was told it would be cold. We just came out of a long winter, where our average temperature was -10ºC at night and -0.6ºC during the day during our coldest month. Needless to say, 2ºC will be no problem for me.

I’m excited to meet all of you and hear about where y’all are from and what it’s like there! Personally, I get a lot of misconceptions about where I’m from when I’ve traveled before. When I say I’m from Massachusetts, many say, “Oh, so you’re from Boston? Do you have the accent?” No. No, I’m as far as you can be from Boston while still being in Massachusetts. Of course I’ve been to Boston, but by no means am I from there. I live in a small city called Pittsfield. As far as accents go, I’ve noticed a little accent that I have, but it’s more of a New England thing rather than a Massachusetts or Boston thing. We don’t pronounce our “t”s unless they’re in the front of the word. To us, a “t” is used to stop a vowel. For example, instead of continent, I say “con-en-en(t)”. Overall, I’m pretty proud to be a New Englander and a Masshole (which we’re called because of our bad driving).

As far as Madagascar goes, I’m most excited to learn about the environment there. They have a very diverse ecosystem where almost all the species that live there are endemic, meaning only found in Madagascar. I’m very excited to see as much of Madagascar’s diverse ecosystems as I can on our treks. I’ve done backpacking before so it shouldn’t be too much trouble for me. If anyone needs advise on how to pack light, let me know. I’ve always wanted to go to Madagascar, ever since I first heard of its biodiversity. My goal is to one day be a field researcher and study the environments of the world and learn more about our world. I’ve always loved science and learning about the environment. I even put my hair under microscopes to see how it looked up close.

I also love art and music. I’ve been playing music since I was very young and probably learned how to read music before I learned how to read words and books. I play violin and ukulele actively, but have played saxophone and a little piano in the past. I also sing. I’m excited to hear the music in Madagascar and learn about what cultures may have influenced their music. I’m also excited to see some of their artwork, as I am also a painter, sculptor, ceramicist, and drawer in the spare time I seldom get. I love the arts in all their forms and can’t wait to experience them in other cultures.

I’m so happy to have gotten the opportunity to go on this trip and meet all of you. My sister’s been on two Dragons trips and still keeps in pretty close contact with all her friends. I hope we can also stay in contact, even after our trip. Please post on the yak board so we can all get to know each other a little better before our trip. I was quite reluctant to post as well, so I get it if you’re nervous, but I think it’s a really good idea just so we get a little idea of who we’ll be spending the next six weeks with. See y’all in a week!