Monday, March 14, 2011

Games and More

When it comes to impatience for the term to end, there’s not a lot of difference between school in the US and school in Kenya. My school will close on April 1st for a little over a month, and the teachers (myself included) and all the students are getting really anxious for these next three weeks to fly by – mostly because Provincial Games start right after closing! Provincial Games will be held at a primary school for the Deaf in Nakuru (about one hour southwest of Nyahururu) and will host all the special schools in the Province. Each special school will compete within its category (e.g. Deaf students compete against one another, Blind students compete against one another, etc.) and the students who do the best in their category will proceed to National Games in Mombasa.

Last Friday we had school-wide time trials for the running races. We had already selected the volleyball teams (boys and girls), football team (boys) and netball team (girls), but we hadn’t chosen students for the track events. We don’t have a discus, javelin, shotput, long jump or high jump at our school, so I’m still a little unclear about how we’ll select students for those events (maybe no one will enter). But we do have a rudimentary track (an oval-shaped trail through an overgrown field) which we used for the running time trials. I was pretty impressed with these kids – they don’t have running shoes (or any shoes at all, in a lot of cases), they don’t have clothes other than their uniforms (imagine running a track race in a skirt and petticoats) or water bottles (instead of water, Kenyans give kids powdered glucose after running a race), but most of them were incredibly fast. It was a lot of fun to watch the kids really excel at something, especially the ones who have a difficult time in class. Once the time trials were finished, we determined who would travel to Nakuru as a team. Unfortunately, we only have the budget to bring 35 students, so about 25 kids will be left behind. The littlest ones in class one were oblivious to the purpose of the races, so they weren’t disappointed about being left. But there were a few older students who have never qualified and really want to go to Nakuru, so there were some tears. Seeing the kids so upset about not being able to travel to a town just an hour away made me really wish that we could bring everyone on the trip, but I also found myself feeling grateful for the travel opportunities I've been lucky enough to have over the years. Hopefully there will be another chance for them to go somewhere different – maybe to Kakamega for the drama and dance competitions later in the year.

I’ll be one of two teachers to chaperone the week-long trip to Nakuru, and maybe continue on to Mombasa if any of the kids qualify. I’m very excited about Nakuru – it’s the fourth largest city in Kenya (after big three: Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu), which hopefully means I can find supermarkets, fun restaurants and maybe some dancing. But even if I don’t find those in Nakuru, they will certainly be waiting for me in Nairobi in mid-April.

Aside from these upcoming events, there isn’t a lot that has changed at my site. The rains still haven’t come, which isn’t great news for the crops, but we’re still hopeful that they’ll come before March ends. Also, today marks five months in Kenya, which is exciting, but I’m losing bits of my American-ness every day. For example, I was talking with a friend from college on the phone last Friday, and she mentioned looking up churches on I found myself wondering, "what the heck is Yelp?” After I sat and thought for a good five seconds, I finally remembered Yelp (a website that provides reviews of businesses in searchable regions that I used on a weekly, if not daily, basis at home). Once I knew what she was talking about, I couldn’t believe I had completely forgotten about a website that I used so frequently at home. I guess there’s not a real need for it in Sipili, where there’s one hotel, one supermarket and all the other little shops are virtually identical. I also find myself feeling completely shocked when I see someone scantily clad on TV. Music videos or advertisements that were run-of-the-mill back at home seem completely scandalous here. I think I’m becoming re-sensitized to the insane images that we see all the time on TV in the US, which will prove interesting when I get back home. I don’t know how I’ll deal with a supermarket full of choices, running water whenever I want it, or any other amenity that I’ve been living without since arriving in Kenya. After living here for enough time, America seems, in retrospect, like an oversized theme park. It’s a place with comparatively little disease, it's clean and tidy, full of entertainment and interesting gadgets that make daily living nearly effortless. I actually find myself having a hard time believing I lived there less than six months ago. This will all make for a very interesting re-entry in roughly 21 months, but luckily there's quite a bit of time before I have to worry about that. For now, I’m more than happy with my new home, here in Kenya.

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