Sunday, June 13, 2010


 It’s officially been two weeks since I’ve arrived and started working here in Kenya.  I’ve had a really good time so far, but at the same time I’m incredibly exhausted! Since the day I got here, I have worked and worked and worked! I think I’ve calculated around 120 hrs that I’ve already spent working on my project. It’s intense, but I hope that by the end of my experience I will have a good product to deliver to my client organization.  I’m pretty happy with what I have done so far.

  Other than being exhausted, I am having an incredible time.  I’ve met some incredible people, both in the office where I work along with the people I’ve met through  my various interactions here and there.  I’ve come to find a group of individuals who I really respect and know that I am learning a lot from about so many various things.  Specifically, my colleagues at GKenya Trust have just been so welcoming, caring and affirming of who I am. While we’ve had our bouts of ughhhhssss and Ahhhhh’s!!! I’ve really come to value each person and what they bring to the table. I come to work and I really feel as if I am coming to a place where I have great friends. We will see after this is all over, but I hope the positive spirit will keep.  Along with my fabulous colleagues at GKT, there are also so many AWESOME people!! Like…AWESOME!! I’ve never met such FABULOUS people who all just live so freely. I have incredible respect and admiration for the bravery and courageousness with which all of them live their lives. I really feel as if I am amongst “Milk” like figures…young men and women who in a time and place that does not accept them, are not afraid to be who they are and stand up for what they believe is the right thing.

    I am definitely regretting my lack of ability to learn languages…I need to learn Swahili!! SOON!!!   My friend Ben gives me crap every day for it!! Hahhaa. But it is such an intricate part of the culture here, and I wish I knew more so I could invest more of myself.

   My life has been pretty much work and sleep…there hasn’t been many variations in my activities since I arrived here, except for the weekends. I don’t regret it very much…I’ve had a great time…it’s just been a lot of work. I love hanging out with my roommate though. We’ve had some incredible conversations about life so far and that is always nice to have at the end of your day. We all cook for each other here and there and do our fair share of the household chores.  I’ve tried new food, and dishes and have liked most of the things that I’ve had.  We usually go to bed around 8 at night and leave for work around 5:30 every day. We spend about 12 hours in the office before we come home and do the same routine every now and then.
     My weekends have been a little bit more varied. I am living in a small town outside of Nairobi called Rongai, which is about a 20-60 minute drive into and out of town depending on the traffic.  My transportation is limited to my roommates ability to pick me up and drive me, and or to have someone else come and pick me up. The past couple weekends I’ve been able to find a ride into town and have had an AMAZING time! WOW! In many ways, I LOVE Nairobi. I’ve had some incredible nights out and the people I’ve encountered were all so great. Last weekend I went dancing with a few people after spending the days with my new friend Ali who is this incredible guy who is so full of life.

  He’s so out there in so many ways, and he is not afraid to be himself. We went to a meeting that we held for our organization and then I hung out while he got a many and a petty. Then we got our haricuts…it was so much fun and to see his tremendous spirit was just so great. Later that night I met up with a few colleagues from work and we had some great time outside of the office getting to know each other. And then at the very end of the night, we went to this place called Gypsies which is a dancing club and AHHHHH it was so cool!!
   This weekend I met an awesome new friend who is a diplomat for the US Foreign Service Department. He invited me to join him and 9 of his friends for a dinner party he was throwing and we all had an AWESOME time.  We were all our big old MO selves and had a great time laughing and talking about our various lives. Many of his friends were colleagues from the embassies, so I got to meet people from many different parts of the world. And not to mention, the house and place where we were were just remarkable! I loved it! It was so beautiful and reminded me a lot of the states.

   On Saturday mornings, David, my roommate and I have attempted running…. I fail miserably every time given that we are running on a mountain. I’m fine going down the hill…it’s the running back up that has really gotten to me. But it’s a nice and refreshing run that I hope will help keep me in shape. This weekend he and I also went swimming in an Olympic sized pool in downtown Nairobi. It was so nice just to have a relaxing swim and then lunch.

   Overall, I think I’m learning a lot about myself. I struggle here and there…it’s not easy to come to some random place in the world all by yourself. I would argue that it was just as hard to come to Arkansas as it was to come to Nairobi.  There are the times when you just want to have that friend that has known you forever and who you don’t have to explain yourself too all the time. And of course there’s the unfamiliarity of the space and the place that you live. Orienting myself hasn’t been easy, but at the same time, it’s a part of the experience and I’m grateful for that.

    One aspect of walking around that I’ve noticed a lot is that everyone looks at me and stares. Culturally I guess when you see someone that you normally don’t see in a small town just outside of the city, you can’t help but be curious about them. I’m a “Mazoongu” or white person and that has its benefits and challenges. Sadly, people assume somehow that I have some type of power, that I have money of some kind and etc… It makes me more vulnerable in some ways because of what people ASSUME I am…but at the same time it also protects me in some ways as well.  It’s just hard to constantly be watched and to be “different” when sometimes you just want to fit in and be “normal. I can’t help but feel that this must be similar to the experience of minority students when they are the “only” one’s like who they are. I absolutely hate that someone would ever have to feel as if they are different ALL the time, and to be questioned and subject to more scrutiny because they stand out more.

    I’m about a quarter of the way through my experience so far.  It’s great. It’s challenging. It’s one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. My work has been compounded by the fact that I am also stressed out with all of the new components of my life that I have to be aware of. Making new friends, learning a culture, how I’m supposed to get where, etc, etc. So many parts of who I am.

   At the end of the day though, I am learning over and over again. Each and every day. I’m so thankful to grow and to become more of myself. To challenge my prior conceptions and to live life more open and full to the possibility. One of those possibilities to me came in the form of watching the world cup opening ceremony with my colleagues at work. I wanted to cry, I don’t think they would have understood. But for me, it highlighted the beauty that is Africa. This amazing place that I have come to love in so many ways is finally getting a world stage that it deserves. It is beautiful and amazing and to know that more and more good things are coming to this place just helps me to know that I am in the right place.

 Ahhh world, wish me luck!! Thanks to all of you who have kept in touch and followed me. It means a lot to know you are out thereJ

In Ubuntu!


  1. 120 hours after two weeks?! Maybe I should be working more...

  2. Ryan, you're the man! Keep rockin out those hours! (But it also looks like you're having a lot of fun experiences too, well done!). I've enjoy your blog a lot, thanks for bringing the experience to us so vividly/personally. Hope you are doing well today. -AT

  3. Dear Ryan,
    You are truly an amazing guy, it was so much fun, and believe me, I was sad that we had to part on the Saturday!! I wanna have more weekends with you!
    Ryan,meeting you was like I have known you for years, and the best part was the kiss at the coffee shop!!
    You are a great friend to have, please lets make this friendship grow stronger and more powerful.
    Lots of prayers, hugs and kisses,
    Yours always,