We left Volcanoes National Park and headed back for Kigali, where all of the teams presented their projects to the whole group the next day. Finally, we had arrived at our last full day in Rwanda—which was bittersweet for all of us. Yes, it was our last chance to say goodbye to the staff we had befriended at our hotel and our last chance to pick up souvenirs for our family and friends, but it was also our last opportunity to be a part of this group. One of the reasons I wanted to go on this trip was to be around people who shared my love of primates and their behavior; it can be hard to find others who share those passions at school or at home, and it was both a strange and awesome experience to be among so many other people who are inspired by the same things as I am.
Eventually, we all knew, we would have to say goodbye. And, even though I was sad that my time in Rwanda was coming to an end, I was excited for the future at the same time. The world doesn’t feel so big and daunting when you know there are other people out there, scattered around the U.S. and elsewhere, who care about the same issues that you care about: primates, scientific discovery, and conservation. So, when I finally said goodbye to Rwanda and the Primate Studies Field School, I knew that my world wasn’t closing back up again as I returned to my small town and back-to-school routine—it was just beginning to open.