A note from 2016 Shannon: This is a little cringe-worthy for me to read now, but it was true to my experience and sense of self at the time, so I copied it here as it was back then (1998). This collection of pictures and stories was really the genesis for It began on my Purdue-hosted server while I was in college and was a way to do some storytelling and introspection in a somewhat public forum. Long before Facebook and social media became the engines for self-promotion, college kids were learning to create web pages documenting their self-absorption by typing out HTML tags in Notepad. In the snow, uphill both ways! This trip was the first time I’d left the country (for Michiganders, Canada doesn’t count) and only the second time I’d flown anywhere at all. I traveled to Niger to visit my boyfriend at the time, a Peace Corps Volunteer named Eric who had studied Wildlife Biology and was working in a national park at the southern tip of the country. I hope you can forgive, and hopefully even enjoy, the wide-eyed reporting style of a 21-year-old on her first Big Trip. Also of note: all photos were taken with my first point-and-shoot camera. When I got home, I took six rolls of film to the drug store and had them developed, and then scanned the photos with my flatbed scanner and saved them on a stack of 3.5″ floppy disks. Then I rode my woolly mammoth back to college.

Notes from a Broad

I assembled this page about my trip to Niger so that I could share my experiences unobtrusively; as soon as you’re tired of looking at photos or hearing my stories, you can make a graceful exit and I’ll never be the wiser. The rest of this page is a combination of photos, thoughts, and excerpts from my personal journal. Thanks for visiting!

Niger is in West Africa and is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. I spent two of my four weeks in the capital city, Niamey. I also visited a small village called Tapoa and one of Niger’s wildlife preserves, Park W. Sandwiched between an internship at IBM and my spring semester at Purdue, this journey into a completely different culture provided a wonderful respite from the rush of American life. No need for a watch there- things happened when people got around to them, and time was measured by the flow of daily tasks instead of the ticks of a clock. The land was beautiful and the people were very friendly and thrilled to have a guest. I met quite a few Peace Corps volunteers during my stay and many of them asked “So are you going to join the Peace Corps and come to Niger?” Ummm, no. I have the utmost respect and admiration for what they’re doing, but it’s very nice to be home (blizzards and all).

Sunday December 20
This place is truly amazing, both in the cultural differences and the striking similarity in all humans. Peace Corps is really an incredible opportunity, but I don’t think it’s for me. At first I felt kind of selfish and guilty for not wanting to make the sacrifices these people have made, but if we all walked the same path, it would be a noisy and destructive procession indeed.

Language and Communication


Transportation in Niamey

Park W and the Large Mammal Survey

Miscellaneous pictures and stories

The not-so-nice parts

Reflections, ex post facto