Freshman Discovers Africaby Nick Gregory '06 • November 4, 2004
While other students were filing into Dr. Blix’s religion class in Goodrich Hall, Homer Twigg was waking up to the crash of angry elephants pounding through the jungles of Africa. Halfway across the world, the Wabash student was getting an education of a totally different kind.
Homer Twigg, a pledge of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, traveled Oct. 7-17 to Malawi. He accompanied his father to an AIDS research conference hosted by the Welcome Trust Fund. Twigg was able to experience the wildlife and get to know the citizens of the nearby villages.
In preparation for his trip, Twigg was given a plethora of vaccinations for a variety of diseases, including polio and tetanus. He was also given a supply of anti-malaria pills to take beforehand as a preventative measure. Hallucinations, particularly of the auditory nature, are a common side effect for such medicines.
"The Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before I left I heard people calling my name even when there was nobody around," Twigg said.
The threat of contracting malaria remains a possibility for Twigg, who is armed with a handful of pills and instructions to visit a hospital if he observes any sort of fever.
The Welcome Trust Fund is a fund started for the benefit of mankind that provides grants for research on diseases like AIDS and cerebral meningitis. The trip was also an opportunity to research AIDS and pneumococcus. Dr. Homer Twigg, the Wabash student’s father, specializes in the pulmonary immune response in HIV positive patients.
Scientists from all over the world met with local doctors to share results from their research, Twigg explained.
"They spoke a different language at the meetings," the student said. "They had the thickest British accents and used strings of acronyms and jargon. After five hours of scatter plots and charts, I had to get out of there."
When not attending the presentations with his father, Twigg took time to enjoy Malawi’s natural beauty. A quick trip down the Shire River lead to the nearby game park where Twigg was able to get close, perhaps too close, to elephants, hippopotami and other wild creatures.
Twigg spent a portion of his time in Malawi doing fieldwork with a group of doctors. The goal was to check up on cerebral meningitis patients that the hospital released after treating. During the excursions through the nearby villages he observed a special quality in the people of Malawi.
"The world spins slower in Malawi," Twigg said. "They’ve got plenty of time."
After spending a week in a foreign country, Twigg returned to campus with a new set of life experiences.
"Africa is living proof that you can make $100 a month and still be happier than most people," Twigg said.
Twigg is a Kappa Sigma pledge and a Greek and Religion major. He is active with the campus radio station, world music club, and intends on working with The Bachelor when his pledgeship ends.
Gregory is news editor for The Bachelor, Wabash College's student newspaper.