Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Long Days

Even though we’ve only been in Thiiri for two days, it feels like we’ve been here a week as the days are quite . It’s quite easy to get acquainted with the staff and the surrounding Kithoka community. Everyone is really friendly. I got a chance to go running this morning again but woke up around 7am instead since I had so much extra time yesterday. I didn’t think about it until tonight but it’s winter in Kenya right now which explains the cold weather. I definitely felt the cold wind when I walked out of my room this morning. After my run and breakfast, I walked to BLISS again with Afonso and Tomas to have another Swahili lesson. Today was a bit different though—we had a history lesson instead of a language lesson. We learned about the rites of passage that Kenyans go through: birth, naming, initiation/circumcision, marriage, and death. It was pretty interesting because the culture is so unique here.

After our lesson, we headed back as Tomas wasn’t feeling so well. He seems to be coming down with a cold from the unexpected cold weather. When we got back, we had some free time so I got a little bit of work done on my project while sitting outside on the second floor next to the dining room. I looked into some old material and the business plan my team and I created for a class as an example to look at. After some time, Ro and I played some ping pong and chatted a bit. She and the rest of the Medical students and the Pharmacy students were around Thiiri working on their projects. They are going out into the community the next few weeks and doing surveys in homes; they are on different projects though.

Lunch came around quickly and after we finished, our group headed to Nakumett, which is essentially a super Wal-Mart equivalent, to get cell phones. Everyone except Afonso, Tomas, and I needed cell phones since we have unlocked phones where we can just insert SIM cards. Unfortunately, they ran out of SIM cards after inputting them in the other new four phones. By this time, we were late for our meeting. The plan set in place yesterday was to have our team meetings from 2-4pm everyday but we didn’t get back to Thiiri until 2:30pm. I felt nervous that everyone would be there waiting for us. In fact, there were only about 5 of the locals who were there waiting for the meeting to start. The rest of the group (7 others) had still yet to arrive; I guess that’s what you call Kenyan time, which reminds me of Asian time.

After the meeting, which ran until 5pm or so, we had some time to relax before dinner. Initially, I didn’t really know what to do with myself since I’m not a big “free-time” person. I went to play ping pong but ended up watching others play. Then as Dan called out to a driver to take him into Meru city, Rama said we should go with him to pick up some SIM cards since we would be able to pick them up in the city. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize he was going to Nakumatt until the van was already leaving. This time around though I got a chance to walk around a bit and picked up some snacks and candy since the phone shop was still out of SIM cards.

When we got back, we ate some dinner and talked a bit before doing our own separate things. I tried to use the internet in the computing lab at first but there were too many people and devices trying to access the internet at once. It was not worth the wait. It wasn’t until much later, around 9pm or so that everyone stopped trying to access the internet and went to their rooms that I went back and used the computers. Everything was much, much faster.

I’ve really enjoyed myself these past few days. I know that my time here is very short so I’m trying to make the most of it by getting to know the locals here and building relationships. It is quite beautiful here, much greener than expected and much colder than anticipated, as I noted a few days ago. There’s a lot of passion in the people here and a lot of potential. I have met so many extremely intelligent Kenyans who I can hold a great conversation with. It’s really nice to hold engaging conversations with different people with different backgrounds and experiences.

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