Written by: Lisa Wilding
Working at CHCI as a summer apprentice has been truly remarkable. I was impressed the first week at the efficiency of this institute. Meetings and lectures are punctual and informative, work schedules are posted clearly, research projects and data collection are managed well, and everyone puts the chimpanzees first and foremost in priority. Dr. Jensvold emphasized the fact that these individuals did not choose to be here, that they have done nothing wrong and yet this is, in essence, a prison for them, as they cannot leave. The realization of this statement made a big impact on me. Being around the chimpanzees is an awesome experience, and their intelligence and language capabilities far exceed any expectations I may have had. My favorite job is working up on the berm where you keep vigilant patrol and a log of their activities while the chimpanzees are allowed access to the outside enclosure. As the wind sweeps through the enclosure, you can catch a glimpse of a chimpanzee walking silently through the tall grasses to sit in a favorite spot. This is a special place where you can just be in their presence, sharing the silence. I am grateful to Dr. Jensvold and CHCI staff for this unique opportunity. This is a summer I will never forget!