Friday, June 19

A Year (or Two) in Kenya: Feelings at the onset

In just under a month I will be leaving the United States. I have no intention of coming back for at least a year. Maybe two. I'll probably make that decision about this time next year. I'll be working at an orphanage just outside of Nakuru, Kenya, with the International Humanity Foundation, the same organization I went with to Jakarta last summer.

By now, this is fairly common knowledge among my family and friends and acquaintances and those with whom I interact semi-regularly. It tends to come up when people ask me about my plans after graduation, and now, as the date for departure comes ever nearer, they're beginning to ask how I feel about the whole thing. Excited? Nervous? The simple answer? Yeah, I am.

Of course, I'm excited. The world is a big place. Enormous, really. So far I've managed to spend copious amounts of time only in northern Minnesota, eastern Washington and southern Germany. There is an awful lot more to this world than that and visiting ethnic restaurants can take me only so far in knowing the rest. This next year is going to be something completely different. Africa, much less Kenya, is an entirely new continent to me. New people, new languages, new cultures, new foods, new sights, new everything. Is it even possible to not be excited for coming to a land wholly outside the experiences of my life so far? When every day promises to teach me something I did not before know?

Of course, I'm nervous. This is not going to be a vacation. I am going to work. I am going to teach English. I am going to be at least partially responsible for the well-being, safety, health, happiness and education of over a hundred children whose mother tongue is a language I do not understand at all. On a daily basis I will be interacting with people who speak a different language, live a different culture and relate to people differently. There is no doubt that I will make mistakes along the way and shame myself or those I am with. All I can really do is hope none of these gaffes will be too heinous.

I hope this is a healthy attitude to approach the coming year with: an excitement for the new and unusual tempered by an awareness of the challenges. Otherwise I might be in for a rough go of it at the beginning.

In any case, I hope you all, my faithful readers, are excited. If nothing else, this year (or two) abroad will provide some fresh grist for the mill that Spice of Life is. That ought to be fun.

1 comment:

Markus said...

Hi Chris,

i hope you have fun and learn a lot of new things. Enjoy these new experiences :-)