Wednesday, April 21, 2010

HMANA’s Duluth conference an international event; Iceland volcano presents problem for Congolese scientists

What could a volcano in Iceland and visitors from Africa possibly have in common with the HMANA conference in Duluth? This was a situation that conference organizer Julie O’Connor could never have anticipated. Shortly before the conference began, she received registrations from two scientists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not long after their arrival in Duluth, the eruption in Iceland had begun spewing a huge ash cloud which shut down air travel throughout Europe. At the end of the conference Bandele Fidele Egalenzibo and Luhilu Mukwalemba Bienvenue were scheduled to make flight connections in Brussels on their way home from Duluth.

Despite language problems (Julie doesn’t speak French, the language of the DRC, and our distinguished visitors speak very little English) O’Connor devoted a huge amount of time over the next few days working phone and internet in an attempt to find a solution to the travel dilemma presented. On Saturday evening we learned that she had helped them connect with a friend at UMichigan who would arrange a flight to Kinshasa-Gombe. She and one of the Hawk Ridge volunteers saw them off on a bus to Ann Arbor. Bon voyage, amis!
in photo, L to R: Fidele Egalenzibo, senior scientist, Ministry of the Environment, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Aldo Contreras Reyes, Chavarillo Veracruz, Mexico; Jean-Pierre Savard, Environment Canada; Luhilu Mukwalemba Bienvenue, Ministry of the Environment, DRC; David Hussell, Environment Canada; Ernesto Ruelas Inzunza, Xalapa, MX and currently teaching at Dartmouth College in NH

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