Kenya: Summer 2014

Hah Jambo (hello) from Kenya!

We have had quite the busy week and a half. We have been experiencing so many things not only about the Kenyan culture but also about ourselves. Last week when we arrived we toured Nairobi and all the ladies bought a Kanga to wear when we are doing one of our projects. We have planted trees to help offset the carbon emissions that we will produce with the total air miles we are accumulating. Our tree planting experience was an interesting one in the fact that none of us really expected to only plant a couple trees each. At the place that we were staying for this we had a tour guide named Mark, who is working on biodiversity and is in my opinion the Albert Einstein of trees and plants. I found the experience a very humorous one and our first real look at how Kenyan people normally don’t go from point A to point B in finding a solution but going around in a circle until an answer or conclusion is reached.

We visited Rosslyn Academy, where our leaders Jim and Lori, worked for 12 years. I think we all enjoyed seeing the interactions between our leaders and people that they had not seen in 12 years. It definitely made my day! We have also been to a Tea Farm, and got to experience a traditional British lunch and tea. Kenya is one of the largest producers to the world’s tea consumption. There is nothing like a good cup of Kenyan tea! I will be getting some to bring back to the states!
When we went to Lake Naivasha, we rode in boats to view some of the wildlife. Lori and Jim said that the last time they were here land was present instead of the water. Knowing that global warming had something to do with this impact made us all think about our consumption and sustainability and how they impact others. We were able to view so many different types of wildlife. We saw hippos, zebras, buffalo, and tons of different birds. We have also hiked up Mt. Longonot, which is located in the Great Rift Valley. I think even though everyone was sore the next day we all thoroughly enjoyed our hike together.
Over the weekend we were able to stay with local families. This was an eye-opening experience for each of us in many different ways. We were able to build relationships in just a few short days and many of us are going to be keeping in contact with one another. It was great seeing the everyday life of the different families we were with. I think we all realized how many more similarities we have rather than differences. I don’t know about my fellow travelers, but being in church on Sunday with my family was an overwhelming feeling. I felt God’s presence with us in that moment.
The past several days we have been at the Voyager Resort in Mombasa, on the Indian Ocean. It has been great to relax and spend time just getting to know one another. We have been sunbathing, playing in the pool, laying by the beach, and just having fun. This morning some of us went snorkeling, which was a great adventure. We continue to enjoy each other’s company and have each formed new relationships that I see lasting a long time.
Our next adventure will lead us to a rural village in a tiny town called Kola. We will be helping some of the local communities build a sand dam that will hold and purify the water. By providing clean water we will help change lives and that is what this trip is about for all of us, to make an impact and make the world a better place. I also need to include that I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my experiences at EMU! This experience is going to make me a better teacher and person!

-Erin Johnson, Senior SPED Major