Thank you Dr. Carter for writing & sharing my first blog! From this point forward, the blogs are truly from moi. I really do look forward to sharing my experiences these next two weeks, so stay tuned!
Those are the first words that come to mind as I pack my bags and head out of town, jumping to and from some four plane flights to Kenya. Where these words originate from, I’m not quite certain. Perhaps the words are simply the voices in the back of my head of loved ones and friends intimating over and over again “This will truly be a life-changing experience. Clap when the plane lands and be sure to kiss the ground! You’re finally going home!” Or maybe those words come from the myriad of tales about my ancestors generations passed snatched from the belly of this continent, tales that scream some sort of anthem to my ready ears of going back to where we started and learning the secrets concerning an inclusive, enriching, peaceful, and spiritual movement of our society towards a better future. Then again, they could come from the way the land rushes at me, everything so lush and green, the cool air tickling amidst the hot sun, the red clay of the Kenyan soil plentiful- all beckoning somehow, proclaiming that somewhere in all of this, my heart must be buried. Even so, maybe it’s more spiritual than that- maybe the words come from my spirit’s contentment with stepping into a mystery, an exciting exposure to a world beyond what I’m use to, an introduction to something new, something I have never experienced before. Perhaps this is a spiritual journey of going home to my purpose. Whatever it is, the words strike me as something to ponder throughout these next two weeks. Thus, as I land on Kenyan soil in the dark of night, full moon smiling down to greet me, I think of my name, and how it comes from the official national language in this country- Swahili (Kiswahili). Not a mere coincidence; somehow, someway, I am going home.
But enough of the lyrical writing. It is Friday morning here in Nairobi, and the six of us sit around talking about the politics of education in America versus education in a country like Kenya. What are the differences, and where do they come from? Why are so many students in the states entering college without knowing how to truly read books from a “critical analysis” standpoint and write at the college level? Where does creativity come into the mix in the classroom, and has it been bogged down by this structural need to meet “testing” standards? What disparities exist between students striving towards success in countries like Kenya versus the lack of desire to really succeed in many schools in the U.S.? Debbie Green (director of Children’s Literature for Children) shares her quiet, yet professional, tactful-like disposition while Kay Curtis chats on with amazing expertise and a contagious passion for giving back. Our family practice doctor Rich Entel is looking on with an observant eye offering an intuitive and very thoughtful temperament as Abi Shields shares a stunning grace and precision in her comments and viewpoints surrounding her experiences in the field of education. And of course, there’s Mr. Ashley Bryan whose age has yet to hold back his fantastic charm and invaluable knowledge and stories that he readily shares. I feel blessed in being accompanied by such an amazing group of individuals!
Afternoon arrives, and as we find ourselves riding down the roads on our way to Nyeri, I observe the people, the landscape, the “interesting” bus ride (my first experience as a left-side front seat passenger!), the interactions (school children walking home for lunch period, vendors selling sugarcane, shoes, food, & other goods on the side of the road)- it’s a lot to take in. That writer in me immediately ponders over what it’s like to see life through their eyes, to walk in their shoes. There’s a certain sense of freedom and distance in coming to a place like this as a tourist, or social worker, and I wonder what it would mean, what it would feel like if this was my life.
Before arriving at the Outspan Hotel, we take a detour to visit the most important stop of our journey here in Nyeri- Mount Kenya Academy. Sitting in the office of the humble and dedicated Charity Mwangi, director and founder of the school, I’m almost startled by this sudden rush of calm and downright “feel goodness” that spills through the windows. It’s not just me- Rich leans over and questions, “do you feel that? That sense of calm/purpose?” I sure do. As we head out of the senior school of the Academy, I look up and spot a few faces peering mischievously at us from the windows above. I wave at the students as they shoot shy smiles back at me. I’m almost tempted to grab my bags and spend my entire time right here on campus. “A little rest first, Noni” Kay says to me with a smile. And a little rest I shall have.
It’s just gotten dark, and here I sit typing on a patio with a beautiful view of Mount Kenya in the distance- apparently the second highest mountain in Africa. I watch two peacocks trot by me, their passionate calls calling out to the night, and allow a smile to adorn my lips. I’m in Kenya! And can’t get enough of it. We have quite a bit of work ahead of us, but I am certainly ready to go! Are you?
Until next time,
Love, Light, & BlessingsBack