Blog Post- Week 6 & 7
Hello again, world. Life here has been pretty busy. After traveling to Amboseli and Kisumu, we finished up the remaining two weeks of classes before parting ways to begin our IDS programs. The second to last week of classes was focused on preparing for the Swahili exams, which took place on Thursday and Friday. With class registration taking place the majority of the final week and the ongoing issue of questionable (at best!) Internet connection at the UKC, we were fortunate enough to have our professors teach classes on the compound. While this may come as a shock to some of you, final papers, exams, and class registration all rolled into one week is actually not very enjoyable even here in Kenya. Luckily we found lots of ways to treat ourselves: trips into Karen, visiting the elephant orphanage, playing soccer and volleyball, doing yoga, and eating food (a favorite group activity) filled up our days and helped us maintain our sanity as we powered through our final exams.
The Friday evening after finishing our Swahili exams, we all got together to host one big potluck in celebration of finishing exams and our very own professor Amisi’s birthday. We invited all our professors and everyone made their favorite dish from home (major shout outs to both the buffalo chicken wing dip courtesy of Mac-Daddy and the roti made by Meera)
Some of us were on bartender duty which included Jenny-mix-a-lot and Dr. Dawa (Jeff), who whipped up some cocktails which Amisi particularly appreciated [Disclaimer: The Kenyan drinking age is 18 years]. Both Sinnary and Wairimu made appearances and they both brought us some delicious dishes! We also came up with a theme for the night’s festivities, which required everyone to wear some of their favorite items they have bought in Kenya. To finish up the night we had a photo shoot and were able to snap a quality photo that we will frame and hang up on the compound wall! It was truly a perfect night to finish up our week of Swahili exams and forget about the upcoming week of pain and paper writing.
During the last week, we visited the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, a place where young elephants who are abandoned if their mother dies in human-wildlife conflict or if they are trapped in a well (which happens pretty frequently) are raised and prepared to return to the wild. The elephants were very eager to drink their milk, which prompted nearly 100 tourists to all start taking pictures. While at the surface the orphanage looks like a great organization, the visit brought up a lot of conversations about the controversy of wildlife conservation organizations. Some see this as a solution to human-wildlife conflict while others believe that while these organizations may have the best interest at heart, they may not always be effectively addressing the root of the problem.
After the two very stressful weeks, we were all ready and excited to head off to our IDS programs. While the majority of KSPers stayed in Kenya, some students traveled to Tanzania and Uganda. People worked on a variety of different projects: childcare, community development, environmental and biological conservation, health and education, art and craftwork, and language training. In the next few weeks, be sure to keep an eye out for each student’s post summarizing his or her IDS experience!
Somehow—we can’t believe it—this will be our last group post for our Kenya semester. We’ve all had an amazing semester, learning and experiencing so much that it is sometimes hard to put into words. Upon return, if you ask us “How was Kenya?!” and we find ourselves at a loss for words other than amazing, incredible, etc. understand that we would need more than a quick conversation in the street to even begin to explain “how Kenya was.” But don’t worry, if you’ve got an afternoon/day/week, we would all be more than happy to talk for hours! That being said, we are all, of course, excited to come home and see our family and friends. We will never forget our time in Kenya and strongly encourage anyone looking to learn a lot, meet some incredible people, see some amazing sights, and gain independence and a sense of appreciation that is un-achievable in our everyday lives, to study abroad on the Kenya Semester Program.
-Lindy, Jeff, Jenny, Megan