Sunday, November 29, 2009
Siku ya Kushukuru (Thanksgiving)
Happy Thanksgiving friends and family! Over on the other side of the world, we were lucky enough to have our own Peace Corps Thanksgiving celebration …turkey and all! Using the ingredients found at the local market, we cooked sausage stuffing (mom’s recipe), spinach, mashed potatoes, rice, 3 chickens and a turkey. The poor turkey was still alive when we got to the Outward Bound training site. Somehow seeing a live animal before you eat it makes it much less appetizing. But, the food was delicious and we were completely stuffed, just like a Thanksgiving at home!To add to the cultural exchange, we performed a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving for our language trainers (complete with pilgrim hats and Native American headdresses). We then made hand turkeys, said what we were thankful for, and played pin the gobble on the turkey. Our holiday ended with a bonfire (but sadly no s’mores, no one here knows what a marshmallow even is!!!!) and some Tusker beer. All in all this was a Thanksgiving to remember.
And even more good news (that maybe tops a Thanksgiving feast) is that I found out where I will be living and teaching for the next two years. I will be in a rural town located outside of Kisumu. Located in the Nyanza province, Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya and is near Lake Victoria and the Ugandan border. Lucky for me I will be eating lots of samaki (fish) in the next few years. I will be teaching Biology and Math at a small all girls school. There are only 92 students and 7 teachers. The school is new ( next year will be the first year that there are students in grade 12) and therefore has relatively few resources compared with an older school. I will be living a few kilometers from the school on a compound with another family. I will have electricity and a well to get water from. I’ll be living in a 2 bedroom house, with an outdoor choo, and indoor bathing area. I hear there is a veranda as well! While I am a bit nervous to be living on my own, I am very excited to see my future home for the next two years.
I am still studying Kiswahili on a daily basis and learning a lot from my everyday interactions with my host family and neighbors. Last week I took my first Language Proficiency Exam (LPI) and scored Novice-high! I only need to improve by one level in order to fulfill the Peace Corps' language requirements. If/when I do pass the LPI I will start studying Luo which is the language spoken in the Nyanza province. It is quite amazing how many languages are spoken here. With 43 tribes the number of languages heard on a daily basis is overwhelming! Lucky for me, English and Kiswahili are the national languages so I will be teaching in English.
The weather here is getting colder and everyone here is thankful for the rain. As my mama says, no rain no food. When it rains here it REALLY rains. The rain brings out the “mdudu” or the insects which some people here catch in the air and eat! I have yet to try this Kenyan delicacy and am not sure if I will. Speaking of food, my mama here is very happy that I have been eating more. I am now getting used to the giant Kenyan proportions and can now eat 3 chapati when only a few weeks ago I could only finish 1!!!
I am now pretty adjusted to the lifestyle here. The bucket baths, choo, and hand washing of clothes no longer are shocking experiences to me. I am starting to understand more and more Kiswahili which has in turn made me more comfortable in my environment. While I have not been too homesick, I do miss my friends and family back home. Hopefully some of you will be able to come visit me next year. On a sad note, Tootsie had to be put to sleep…she will be greatly missed. Please send me an update on your lives when you get a chance, I’d love to hear from you!
Hugs from Kenya,