It’s not all giraffes and reggae.

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Hannah leaning casually against the pillar. On the left you can barely see Beatrice, HR director for AIC.

Blogging is an interesting interaction. There’s a certain vulnerability afforded because you’re writing not necessarily to a specific person or audience. I mean, I don’t know who reads this. Maybe I say something offensive or maybe they don’t share my faith or maybe their English isn’t so great. All of which leads to an openness that if you know me at all might err on the side of too open haha. Anyways, it’s also unique because it’s a medium where you need to share kind of specifically or thematically. Consequently, I find myself generally wanting to share unique or special things because those are the types of things that seem worth blogging about and also come with a beginning, middle and end. Buuuttt… I guess for my blog it probably would bode well with my readers (especially those who contributed) to know what I’m doing in my normal days and why I’m in Kenya.

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Samples hanging in the dress making classroom.

So we’re into our third week at the training centre (NTC) and a schedule is slowly beginning to form. We’ve attended a couple of morning devotions with the entire student body, spent some time doing some office work, taught the first of a few life skills classes, worked in the kitchen cooking lunch for everyone (you haven’t cooked til you’ve mixed a vat of beans with a huge wooden paddle over a fire), spent a couple evenings in the girls’ hostel (dorms) and even made ourselves some skirts in the dressmaking class. I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable and at home but it hasn’t been an easy go. It really is a different pace of life and a different way of going about things. It’s one of those things that everyone warns you about but until you have to sit through hours of planlessness (I know that’s not a word) it’s really amazing how frustrating and discouraging it can be.

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A hallway through some classrooms and past the library.

I came here imagining something different than my experience so far in a couple of ways. I didn’t think I’d find it so hard to actually initiate conversation and relationship with the students. I am normally such an outgoing and extroverted person but that’s really in a North American context. Rebekah who visited earlier this month even mentioned that I must thrive in this social culture but I find myself kinda hesitant and a little intimidated. I always find myself very aware that at least in the beginning, I’m different. I’m really cautious and don’t want to come across as that wealthy mzungu who’s come to “rescue” the poor kids from the slum. I’m not sure what I expected but while the students are in class, which is all day, I’m not doing what I thought I would be. So my opportunities to talk to them are during break, in the hall or at lunch.  I also didn’t realise how many students there actually are. The problem with this is when you go up to a student and chat, you might not find them the next day or even recognize them among the 150-200 that attend the centre. 

Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

– Joshua 1 : 3,9

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Dizzying stairs connecting the 4 levels of the school.

Despite these early frustrations and discouragement, every day I’m feeling more and more at salama (peace) here. As I get accustomed to the cultural atmosphere so to speak, I am beginning to develop rapport with staff and even if I’m not actually doing anything at that moment, it’s okay because I’m with the people I came to serve. I’m hopefully building relationship; I was told today I am jovial yet preservative (meaning not being too open, in a good way) which I’ll take as a compliment. We’re also learning social cues and appropriateness. Which is handy because you never know what things mean… Hannah discovered that the American Sign Language for needing to use the bathroom means voulez vous couchez avec moi or something like it… awkward, especially when having two male teachers teach you that.

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