Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Run Through Kenya Country

Friday, May 13, 2011
Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a wonderful week! Time here seems to be going both quickly and slowly simultaneously. I cannot believe it is Friday already, yet at the same time, it feels forever since last weekend… very strange. My concept of time is clearly skewed here. Andi and I had a very relaxing day, something that we welcomed with open arms. The weather today was beautiful and we spent a while outside enjoying the sun as some chickens waddled by going along with their plans for the day.
I was able to interview two staff members on their opinions related to happiness. Overall, I think the material I received from them was valuable and I believe I will be able to work with it through my analysis. I found that religion is very integrated in their perspectives and outlook. I am interested to see how it will carry out through the different age groups. I believe my largest concern was that this American English versus Kenyan English language barrier was a bit inhibiting. In some instances, both participants, in their separate interviews, misinterpreted my questions. In carefully writing my questions, I had thought them to be quite clear. I rephrased them to the best of my ability, prompting to guide them in the right direction. I also found it very interesting that both disregarded the use of a scale to more accurately describe something. For example, one question asks how often they find themselves feeling happy. To further clarify, I provided a scale from one to five (one implying that happiness is never felt, and five indicating that it is felt all the time). Both participants totally ignored the scale and explained that it all depends on what happens during the day. They had a very hard time conceptualizing their general day-to-day feelings. They seemed to be stuck on how they feel each day as dictated by the situations that present themselves. We will see if this trend extends to the rest of the participants… I will keep you updated.
For the rest of the afternoon, Andi and I sat outside reading the responses of our students for the Lesson 2 handout. I will share with you some inspiring highlights. From the older group (my class), the CYEC makes me happy because… “I know I will make it in the future,” “It is the only place where I can shape my life.” Reading “makes me happy because it can take you somewhere else.” “I don’t feel happy when I see my friend doing wrong things.” I am happy to be me because… “No one like me in this world for I am unique,” “I know I will pursue my future career,” “I love myself.” I cannot wait to hear more from them as I really believe these children have much to share… more to come I hope!
In the later afternoon, when Paige returned from her meeting, we set off for our daily run. Issa (a different Issa), an avid marathon runner, asked if he could take us on a “short 30 minute run.” Naturally we agreed, not sure as to what exactly we were getting ourselves into. Issa took us to a place I really cannot adequately explain. We ran through Kenyan country, up and down steep hills, across skinny, hand-made bridges, through fields of green and along paths so thin only your feet could fit one in front of the other. So many smells graced us as we ran by. Some smelled of spices, others of sweet flowers, and others I simply could not recognize. All I wanted to do was to look around and absorb the lush valley as a gentle river trickled through far below us. I wanted to wander along the plants as we ran through a coffee plantation, humbly unmarked, but presenting with rows upon neatly planted rows. The hills rolled and rolled, advertising the impressive sheer numbers of coffee plants.
I could only glance quickly as we ran past lakes and tall grasses, etc. as I had to keep most of my focus on my strategic foot placement. The terrain was very challenging and I often found myself marveling at what an agility course it was! At times I was running with one foot on either side of a gulley. The high altitude here is still challenging me immensely at and points I found myself providing self-encouragement… right, left, right, left. About five miles through the secret, unmarked dirt paths of Nyeri country, we returned to the centre exhausted and in awe. We made a plan to hike it at some point so we can enjoy the sights without fear of breaking an ankle!
Tonight after a much needed shower, Paige, Andi, Jane, and I headed out to dinner for a “girl’s night.” We went to a tasty restaurant in town called Town View. There we ran into Paul and later some of the CYEC staff joined as well. The food was great and we had a lovely meal together. We continued to taste a Kenyan beer at a bar close by. Tomorrow, we are waking up to go to an open air market with Jane and then will be going out with some of the staff in Nyeri. Jane’s cousin will also be visiting. It sounds like fun. I’m dreading turning the lights out as I have been eyeing the mosquitoes circling the light as I’m sure they have been eyeing me. Hopefully they will travel elsewhere. Sleep well!

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