Slow Juice, Swahili, and Sign Language

From the outside Kenya seems like a very hectic place. The streets are crowded with people, bikes, pikis, tuk-tuks, and matatus. They all come unfathomably close to one another as they quickly dodge potholes and other vehicles, putting even New York City drivers to shame. The sides of the streets are filled with clothing vendors, shoppers, and countless other objects to dodge. However, the people have a very different mindset than the hectic streets imply. This has been proved to me time and time again when timeliness and rushing always seem to be avoided. Today I was going with the leaders of a project to give a presentation to the district public health providers. Caroline, one of the leaders, and I were sitting drinking juice when the driver came in to tell us that it was time to leave. I started to get up, ready to gulp down the rest of my drink, throw everything in my bag and start walking, only to be stopped by Caroline who said we would finish our juice before we left. We then proceeded to slowly finish our drinks, still sitting, before getting up to leave.

Although life in Kisumu is very different from life in the US there are countless people who are ready to teach me everything. In my host family I have a ten year old brother who seems unconditionally dedicated to teaching me Swahili no matter how many words I manage to forget. He also loves learning and became enthralled with my life when I showed him a picture of snow. He now eagerly waits for me to come home every day so that I can teach him sign language (which he is learning much faster than I am learning Swahili) and tell him stories. Overall, this week has made me very excited for the new stories I will be making while here in Kenya. 

Alexandra Siegel ’16