Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life in Kakamega Thus Far.

Week one

SIDE NOTE: So I started writing this last week – when I was still at the hotel with the other interns during orientation week. Things started to get super busy and I just finished writing the entry. Because of the delay in writing, I may switch tenses a bit. Sorry for any confusion!

Orientation with Foundation for Sustainable Development

Life here in Kakamega has been amazing. I've been staying at a hotel this week with the other FSD interns doing orientation training. There is so much that we have been learning and it has been crazy busy here!

It has been hot here in comparison to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) (or maybe I'm just not well suited for heat) and sunny every day. However, almost every single night, it rains and a couple times there has been thunder and lightning storms. The rain is very very different from the rain in the PNW. For the most part here, it comes with no notice and pours for about an hour or so (sometimes a bit longer) in the evening. Often times during the rain, there would be a black out or the lights would flicker on and off for a bit. (Thankfully, I remembered to buy a flashlight right before I left! That has come in handy over the past week.) Comparatively, the rain in the PNW is fairly constant and most times, not pouring.

Along with three other interns from the States (two of which were from the University of Portland), we spent some time being trained by FSD to get ready for our two month internship. We spent quite a bit of time learning kiswahili, one of the official languages of Kenya. (The other being English.) There are also many tribal languages here because there are 52 tribes that make up Kenya's population.

Culture Shock
During orientation, there were two big ways in which I experienced culture shock. One included our kiswahili lessons, where we learned a lot about different Kenyan topics. (For example, because it is common here, there is a kiswahili verb for diarrhea. Also, when someone sneezes, that person says 'sorry', rather than others saying 'bless you'.) Another way in which I experienced culture shock was out in the market places. Because of my skin color and my hair, I get a lot of attention. Some with shake my hand, others will say hello or ask how I am, and I hear “muzungu” quite often (especially from children).

Before this, I was not much of a tea drinker. I preferred coffee or water and would rarely take tea. Here, people drink tea every single day, multiple times a day so I have grown to love the hot beverage. However, in Kenya, tea is called chai and is made with hot milk, black tea, and sugar.

During orientation week, I really started to like chapati, which we ate at almost every single meal. Between ugali and chapati, I ate a lot of meals with a minimal use of silverwear. Rice is also another big factor of Kenyan food and is often eaten with stew of some sort. Cooked shredded cabbage is also another dish that we had a couple times.

Random fact: because of the way that food is prepared and served here, it has become easier for me to eat meat. My stomach is still getting used to the concept but once I'm back in the States, it is back to no meat.

After two and a half weeks in Kenya, there is still so much I am getting used to. Kenyan and American cultures are very very different, which is something that I am going to cover more in depth in my next post.

Right now, I am settled in at my host family, who are all very nice people. I am living with host parents, a host sister, and a host niece. However, I have meet a lot of the other host siblings (who live in Nairobi or a nearby village) and other extended families members.

I also started work with ACCES yesterday, which has been keeping me very busy! I am learning so very much so far!

Until next time,

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