Thursday, June 16, 2011

East Africa Day 28 (Fri June 10): Awesome Interviews – My Lucky Day.

Started the day with a pre-breakfast run around the outside perimeter of the fence. No time for more than that. The Form 3 students went into town today to see the enactment of a play that they are reading in English Class. Daraja hired two matatus (mini buses/vans) to bring the students into town. Bennett and I caught rides in on one of the matatus. (Matatus are a common form of transit in Kenya, but I’ve managed to avoid them until this AM.) I recorded video of the students singing a song together on the ride in, but the internet isn’t fast enough to post it, so the still photos will have to stand in!

Bennett and I were dropped off in the heart of downtown. He went off to do some volunteer occupational therapy work with area children, and I started my interviews. It was 8:30am – fortunately one of the banks I had planned to visit had just opened. It was an awesome day of running from interview to interview, meeting amazing people, having really interesting conversations, and learning a ton! After Equity Bank (which took an hour – people have been so generous with their time!) I went to the government compound to meet with Charles in the Statistics Office. My only tentatively scheduled appointment of the day – everything else was just luck. We had a great two-hour talk about my project and the US education system. I was sad to leave his office – he has been so great and I don’t think that I’ll get back to the Statistics Office anytime soon!

From there I dropped into Fina Bank, then Barclay’s Bank, then KCB Bank, and finally Standard Chartered Bank. At this point I’ve visited every bank in town, I think/hope! I stopped into the French-owned Boulangerie to see if Karisa was there – the Sacramento native that I met there last week.

I found the Daraja crew, and Karisa. That’s Karisa and John, who makes sure that the kitchen prepares “veggie burgers” for me when I come in, and who played part of a Jack Johnson album last time I was there – not knowing how happy that would make me! The British military have a base in Nanyuki – I assume the guy on the right is a member of the British military.

I got to catch up with Karisa for a while – she’s wrapping up research on Maasai reactions to activism around FGM (female genital mutilation), which she began during her grad studies at Yale. She’s been teaching at Southern Methodist University in Dallas for a year and is currently on summer break, wrapping up the FGM research in preparation to write a book. She’s going to be in Nairobi when I am there, also doing independent research – we exchanged contact info. YAY!

We then ran through a rather heavy rain to the supermarket to pick up a few things. I optimistically looked for hummus. Ummm not available. Not anything even remotely close. I did, however note that the supermarket (a Kenyan chain) carries soy milk – and Texas spices?

I then ran off to the government compound again, and so fortunately found the person that I needed to talk with about the Constituency Development Fund bursaries, which was key! We had such a great conversation. I really met so many nice people this week, who are so supportive of Daraja and the work that I am doing – it was really, really nice. While waiting for Wa to meet up with me, to get a ride back to campus, I happened upon a tiny arts and crafts boutique booth on the main strip in Nanyuki that I’d never noticed before. I started talking with the owner, a young man named Simon who graduated from secondary school in 2009, and then started his business six months ago. He sells his artwork in his shop, and has excellent taste. I was very impressed with his professionalism. While we were talking, another recent secondary school graduate, Hellen who makes and sells beadwork to him, to sell in his shop, stopped by. The three of us had a great talk about entrepreneurship and the trials and tribulations of trying to make it in Kenya, while I waited for Wa. Check out this cute photo of them!

Tonight after dinner the Kenyan teachers and volunteers had a Ladies Night in Maria’s banda. I looked around and remembered that I am in Kenya, and that I should capture this in my memory:)

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