Most of my post have been somewhat thematic, I guess I haven't talked much about day to day activities and how my life is in Kenya. One question I often get from Kenyans is, "How do you see Kenya?" Here is a short jumbled response.
In short, I love it here. The nature of my work, the travelling I do, the scope of my research, the Kenyans I work with, and the organization I am under are excellent. In fact, although my contract is ending in early April, I am planning on sticking it out another month (or two, … three?) to keep in touch with friends here, visit old friends in Tanzania and maybe tour Ethiopia.
|Pastor John, myself, Dr. Jeniffer, and Engineer Jane|
The past four weeks I have been making field visits at the base of Mt. Kenya to Masai land in the south, to Kilifi on the coast. In my last posting, I indicated what an honour it has been and how humbling it can be to experience the love and kindness of people. This week I am reconnecting with two professors from King's University College (Dr. Spaling & Dr. Hiemstra) who are following-up with my research last year and to explore a tentative field-course. This has given me an opportunity to return to Kisayani and see my old 'home' in the village and see good friends again.
One thing that I love about Kenya is the ability to learn a new language. My time in Tanzania a few years ago gave me a great foundation to learn swahili and my time in Kenya has allowed me to nurture that over the past seven months. In the past two months especially I have begun to notice my comprehension and sentence structure of swahili to have grown immensely. Now during interviews and group discussion I can often understand what I being said (as long as it is not a local mother-tonge). As someone who studied French for more than five years and failed tremendously, it's exciting to begin to speak and understand a new language. This has allowed me to have deeper relationships with people here, better understand the culture and to feel much more welcome.
|The team from the ACT evaluation out on the Mombasa coastline|
However, on another note, in the past two weeks I have received news that my grandmother has passed away, and also that my other grandfather was in the hospital. It can hit as a hard reality at times how far I am away from home and family and friends that I love. While being here in Kenya is deeply gratifying and fulfilling, at times I am reminded of all that I leave behind.
The last thing on my plate worth mentioning is grad school. I have applied to three separate schools in the areas of international development, international affairs, and rural planning in January and am beginning to hear back from them. Each of the schools are unique, and have their own strengths, and draws. I have recently found that I have gained acceptance to all, which now makes my decision very difficult. Meanwhile, many of my Kenyan friends are struggling to attend college, not to mention finding the funds to go do a master's degree. So, I quickly shut-up and remind myself to count my choices as blessings.
Whenever I do choose to come back to Canada, I will be equally as excited to see family and friends again as I will be saddened by leaving those friends and 'family' that I have back in Kenya, a strange feeling I am beginning to get used to.