Sunday, July 26, 2009


I'm sorry for the great delay between my last post and this one. Much has happened - I finished my first year of grad school, welcomed my parents and our friend Joy to my adopted home and embarked on a true safari with them. I want to share something I wrote to be read to ambassadorial scholarship applicants for the 2010-2011 school year (since I couldn't be there in person). I have also posted some recent pictures from our safari at my smugmug site here, and am working on catching up on many past-due photos as well. I am in the Bay Area working with eBay on until October 3rd, when I will return to Nairobi (via Istanbul where I'll do a week stopover!) to start my final year at University of Nairobi. Thank you for sharing this journey with me, and for all the support that I have received. My attempt to put the experience into words that follows, is just that - an attempt. Words, as much as I love them, will never do it justice.

"I’ve spent my scholarship year in Kenya where I’m pursuing a M.A. in Development Studies, and savoring every moment of an experience that has truly encapsulated the current Rotary theme of “Make Dreams Real.” Having an organization like Rotary recognize your goals and aspirations and extend the support they do is as great a gift there is. I know each of you have unique and incredible ambitions and aspirations, and whether you get this scholarship or not, I’m confident you’ll find ways to pursue them.

As for myself, these are the things I find myself treasuring as I near the end of my scholarship year abroad. These are things that I know come only from this sort of experience, from an investment in time and exploration in a country so far from home.

They are:
• The Kiswahili words that now flow easily from my mouth, but that will have no meaning to friends and family when I return home.
• The foods that I now crave with afternoon tea (heck, afternoon tea!) that I know I won’t find when I return home.
• The subtle cultural nuances I’m still learning to adjust to and accommodate in my daily commute, or when I enter a room here for the first time.
• The inner struggles to acclimate to a different set of norms while at the same time staying true to my own comfort zone and interests.
• The opportunity to present myself as a foreigner, as an American and as a citizen of the world in a way that those I interact with in my new home may have never seen or understood before.
• The equal opportunity to see in them something different than I may have expected.
• The appreciation and final acceptance of utter and complete differences sometimes small and other times incomprehensibly big.
• And finally, the realization that always hits me at the oddest of times: In the end, the culmination of such differences in culture, location, interests and day to day reality are in fact all actually subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) reminders of the sameness that binds us all together as humans.

In closing, I’d like to make a special acknowledgment of how much richer this experience of studying abroad has been simply because it has introduced me to the Rotary family. I knew little of Rotary before I applied but I cannot imagine how different this experience would be if I did not have the many Rotary clubs and local Rotarians (not to mention support from Rotarians at home) accompanying my journey. I have been afforded intimate access to all walks of life in Kenya, exposure to major leaders and a first hand glimpse of how the local community is tackling the development problems I’m studying."

The boys from the home I've visited many times in Nakuru in the sweatshirts and clothes my friend Heather and her co-workers donated - thank you everyone!

My dad celebrated his 80th birthday in Kenya! What a gift to share this trip with him.

More pictures available here.


Allan Wills said...

Hey MEgan - you are taking some stunning pics! Keep up the good work...

elizabethrosasjewelry said...

Hi Megan,

thanks so much for sharing, I hope to read more of your experiences in Africa soon.