Thursday, October 16, 2008

Settling in

First off - apologies to Audrey, one of the Ripple Kids who has initiated the pen pal project (I mistakenly called her Ashley in my last post!). I'm at the end of a long and fruitful email session - it's so rare to find a computer that has any sort of speed, so when you do, you really relish it. The last few days have been quite full - I had my orientation, visited two Rotary clubs, went to two karaoke nights (what!?) and met my first international student who is even crazier than me. Her name is Angeline and she has come from Ireland to do a 5-year BA/MA in Veterinary studies with a focus on primates. I have warned her of how aggressive chimps can be, but I suppose she knows more about this than I do as she already has a BA/MA in Zoology.

Orientation was great - pretty basic (we'll get more info next week) but a nice opportunity to meet some of the professors and my classmates. I've met 7 of the 15 so far, and we have a pretty diverse range of backgrounds. Some are recent grads, others have been working in NGO's, the education field or have business backgrounds. We took a tour of the IDS library - I may never find it again as you have to go up three flights of stairs, around a couple of corners and then down two more flights to get there. God help me if there's ever a fire.

I have been most excited by the start of my Rotary visits. I have not given any talks yet so I can enjoy visiting and meeting people without the stress of knowing I will be speaking. Rotary in Kenya and throughout District 9200 is very prestigious, I am excited about the various business and community leaders I will have the opportunity to meet, learn from and network with. It is really an honor to represent such a great organization - every meeting I go to I hear about service projects (there has been a big focus here on assisting the IDP population (internally displaced persons)after the unrest earlier this year, as well as on helping with various improvements in rural areas related to water, healthcare and nutrition. One thing I really enjoyed at last nights meeting as I sat alongside a number of prominent business people in an especially formal meeting (we had two AG's there) was the manner in which the club president chose to recognize various members of the club. After acknowledging their contributions he said that in addition to the certificates they'll get for being club members of the month, the four of them will also receive a goat. They just need to let him know when they'd like to enjoy it and he'll make the arrangements. I love this place.

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