Thursday, July 25, 2013

What changed when I went to Africa

When I was first in Kenya last summer, I wrote about my journey to get there, which started when I was young and my cousin went into the Peace Corps.

For long periods of my life, my perception of Africa was exactly what media told me about. I had built an entire ideology of the continent that was filled with images of hunger, war, and sickness. I lumped the entire continent together, despite the fact that Africa is home to 54 different countries, has over 3,000 different languages (Nigeria alone is home to around 500 languages, making it the biggest concentration of linguistic diversities), and is roughly 3 times the size of the United States in land mass.

So with this exceedingly naive impression of a place I knew pretty much nothing about, I was convinced for awhile that I was going to Africa and I was going to save the people who were, in my limited and uneducated opinion, obviously suffering.

But I went and found that yes, there were all of the things that the media described but those were not in any way the only aspects of Africa. I realized that I had come to define a place simply based on the negative aspects and not what it truly was.

Being there, I found a place that was filled with wealth, poverty, and everything in between. I met people filled with humor, laughter, love, and curiosity. I found ways to laugh at my flaws and ignorance in a way that only being in another culture would have taught me.

And when I was there, I found that Kenya was nothing what I had expected yet everything that I had imagined. Those two months taught me more about the world than I could ever imagine but most importantly, taught me that I will always continue to learn about the world.

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