The mid-semester weekend break for students starts this Thursday. They will return to campus next Monday. Even though this break is coming up fast, it also signals a quickening pace of activities for students and faculty as we move to the last few weeks of classes. MPH students who want to graduate this year must complete their field research and submit their final reports before the end of April, but we’re still receiving and reviewing some of their research proposals. We heard good presentations from a dozen of our part-time students last Saturday on everything from HIV research to stunted growth in children. I’ve been assigned to work with several students who are doing their research in the area of non-commmunicable diseases. They send their reports to me as they move through various stages of their research so I can give them suggestions on what they might do to strengthen their research. It’s an interesting process to do this work with them. Ultimately, if their research is well done and they come up with significant findings, their work is publishable. This is gratifying for them, but more important, it gives others working in that field new information that may be helpful to them and to their communities. So it is that progress is made, one step at a time.
Speaking of steps, I’m still keeping up with my weekend hikes. After a good chapel service Sunday, I spent the afternoon hiking and climbing up Mount Chiremba, exploring along a different path than I had ever taken before. I chanced across a few “wildcat gold mines” that were well off the beaten path, high up on the side of another mountain. One of the shafts was at least fifty feet deep, and from the freshness of the soil and rocks around the opening, it was clear that it had been worked on recently. Evidently enough gold can be found in these mountains to make digging for it worthwhile. I don’t climb mountains to find gold, but the treasure I find in the views from the mountaintops is priceless!