Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Koru Update!




Finally here are some picture of my times since I arrived!

Decorating came first, love having my family and friends on my wall!!!

School Assembly. Over 400 students at Menara Primary

This is the view from my walk to Menara Primary once I walk up a hill. You can see Dr. Robert Ouko Primary School (DROPS) on the left, the library just to the right and then on the very top of the hill (if you can see a red roof) is Mama's House and where I also live. 

This is the office I work from at Menara. The safe on the left is where we keep the kindles

This is the Baby Class that I like to go to when I arrive, they will usually sing me a song to say hello :) 
walking to class 5 for a lesson

We were reviewing a story we read the other day and students really understood! I was so proud! 

This student named Branham was such a cheeky little boy. I gave an assignment from an English book in the kindle, and he went to the teachers manual that was also in the kindle and copied the answers!!!! At first while reading his answers I was so shocked at how well written they were, but I caught on!! So, now we deleted the teachers manual so the students won't be tempted. But I had to give him some creative kudos! 

Waiting on the side of the road for our matatu to Nakuru for a Birthday celebration!

We had lots of time...

This was my Birthday treat!!! SOOO YUMMY!!

One Wednesday afternoon there was no school so we decided to BBQ Outside. Chicken and chips! I cooked the chips...

Musini cooked the Chicken.

This is where I walk through to get from my house to Mama's house. Mama's house is behind me there. 

Thought my mom would like this picture :)

We spent a week trying to create the world! 

Finally finished. Musini was much better than me at geography! 

This is what most of my day looks like, since I do a lot of research for lessons to teach at Menera, online masters program and trying to stay in touch with family and friends. 

This is the DROPS school that is just down the hill from my house. Recently completed and managed by Mama Ouko, it is a beautiful school! 

Mama gave her words of wisdom at the opening ceremony. Doesn't she look fabulous!!! 

This is what I have been waking up to every morning for  about 2 weeks...RATS!!!

This is the whole I found just yesterday morning in the screen of my window! RATS NO MORE!!!! 

My girls play volleyball at sports and games this last week. 


My fellow teachers cheering them on

Other Menara students watching and cheering on our volleyball girls

Football match (unfortunately we lost...), but they played so well!


A few of my boys trying to get some shade while watching football.



Hope that you enjoyed my little tour! I'll try and upload some video's that I took another time. I miss everyone so much from home. Seeing everyone in December has really touched me and I think about how much I can't wait to see you all again every day! Hope all are healthy and happy! Sending all my love out to you guys! xoxo

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New years Resolution: Write More Blog Posts!!!


                Trips have come and gone and none of them nearly seemed long enough. Flew from Lamu (where I was having a Holiday and visiting my boyfriend) to Nairobi where I then boarded my plane for Amsterdam. Oh wow how unprepared I was for the Amsterdam winter chill. My first thought when I got off the plane was “its ok I have a pair of socks AND a Northface jacket and some laiso’s to wrap around me”… what I didn’t think about was how none of that was even close to keeping me warm and I truly looked like a homeless person. No shoes but a old pair of socks, second hand blue jeans, north face jacket (my one blessing that I had with me) and many bright colored small blankets (called laiso’s) wrapped around me.  Crawling into a corning and trying to sleep did not help the image either... However, I bought a bag of peanut M&M’s and watched Love Actually in total bliss because I knew that in only 12 hrs. my life would be just like its opening scene. Except it wasn’t at all… After getting off the plane that was kept at a below freezing degree and waiting like a zombie in hours of baggage claim, I walk out to finally see my parents waiting in their warm car outside Delta airlines…Instead I was slapped in the face with even more freezing air and no car that I recognized. Once again, shivering homeless girl wandering alone…After waiting for about 30 min. finally borrowed a phone from the second person I asked (first guy literally ran the other direction…I’m hoping its because he didn’t hear me??) and called all their phones which they were conveniently not answering. My big brother did tho! THANK YOU! And finally found my parents, who were waiting in a different part of the airport…isn’t that always the case?? But FINALLY I got my scene from Love Actually of hugs and smiles and a few tears by my mama (bless her heart).  My cousin Mandy and her little boy came to pick me up as well…wait…LITTLE?? He grew like 2 ft. since last I saw him. I left him as a child and he has grown into a little man. Nothing made me feel like I had been gone for 2 years except for kids. I remember growing up, adults would always comment “Oh wow, look how big you’ve gotten,” and I would roll my eyes and think, well of course! I now take all those eye rolls back and apologize, because I am still in awe of seeing some of those kids. I literally thought Alex Briehl was a different person when I walked into the their house…unbelievable. My little Miller cousins couldn’t be more adorable and pictures don’t do them justice because they both have the fullest and brightest personalities. Gracie with her ballerina leg pop and Will with his charm and laugh. They truly put two years into perspective for me.   
Now, I know I made you feel real sorry for me this past paragraph, however all that sympathy is about to end, when I now tell you how pampered and spoiled I was while staying at Mom and Dads. The comforts didn’t end. With my first dinner being filet mignon, bubble baths and ice cream every night, Christmas cookies for breakfast. I can’t believe the luxury, and yes, I INDULGED!!!   Christmas was so FUN, full of fun presents and Fondue meat and sauce!!!! With much help from my mom I got all my necessary errands done and found a Masters program that I will be starting next month for teaching.  I tried my hardest to get around to see all friends and family and I would like to think I did a good job, however, I know there are some that I didn’t get around to and that was very sad. I apologize, but all are still in my thoughts and I hope to see you next year!  All in all the trip seemed like a whirlwind, but was so nice. Many people while I was there asked what sort of culture shock I had, but honestly with only being there a month it was more vacation mode, BUT the things that shocked me were…
1)   As I said before, how much kids grew
2)   Iphones…everywhere…and I had to ask my parents how to use it…
3)   Body ideology…either overly unhealthy or overly worried about how your body isn’t perfect.
4)   Ginger beer!! Its just like Stony! YUM!
5)   So much stimulation!! And not from TV, but driving was hard for me, because I wanted to look around so much and there are just so many things to focus on!! Traffic lights, cars on every side of you, turn signals and road signs. 
6)   How little things actually changed…towns are the same, people the same. Everything that I love and don’t are still there and that is the most comforting thing to experience.

I’ve tried to explain many times to people that it’s because I have an amazing, comforting home and support system that allows me to be over here and enjoy it. I couldn’t do it without knowing that my home is always there for me to fall back on, and the unwavering support system. So Thank you, to my family and friends and most importantly my parents, who I miss so much already.

90 degrees, sitting on my veranda, trying to keep cool with thoughts of that winter chill!!! xxxxoooo

Friday, November 15, 2013

On to the next one!

Time is flying and I seem to not be able to grasp any moment that is going by even though I am trying so hard to do so. It is bitter sweet to be leaving my little village of Eregi, but I am so ready to begin the next journey! The past few weeks we have been wrapping up school and I have been packing up my home. I donated so many clothes, shoes and other accessories that I won't use to my darling students at Eregi Special and I now know how Oprah feels. "YOU get a t-shirt!! and YOU get a t-shirt!! and YOU and YOU!!!" Every kid got something, which was so nice. Jenfaith, Beatrice and I went through every item and matched it with a child we thought would be best to receive. It was amazing!
This is Kyla trying on a pair of toms that Mandy left behind when she came to visit me in Kenya :)  She now wears them every day. 


Some of my kids I made keep their outfits on so I could snap a picture of them all. They were all so excited to be getting new clothes! 

This week we have had a week break of school for the KCPE (the primary school education test in Kenya). They don't allow teachers in the school at that time, so Peace Corps and I decided to take advantage of the week to move my things to my new site and project.  On Wednesday, my APCD (basically my supervisor) arrived with a large Peace Corps vehicle to transport me (thank god!). The vehicle was packed to the brim!!! After about a 2 hr. drive into what seemed the middle of no where we arrived in a beautiful oasis! I am so happy and excited about what the next year is about to bring. Working with a new very motivated team of people on literacy in the community, running a library and reaching out to the rural schools nearby will be so exciting. Here are pictures of my new home and work.
Mama's Big house 

Rift Valley view from my veranda 

Karibu! to my new home 

Bedroom

The most exciting part of my new house a HOT SHOWER!!!!

Small Kitchenette 

Library just below mama's house

Reading a story with the kids together on the e-readers

Drawing pictures about the story we all just read. Very bright young kids I'm excited to get to know better and work with :)
 So, as you can see I am continuing to have a great time. Moving on to another project and community here. I am so happy to say that I will be coming back to America in only a few weeks for a 30 day vacation!! YAY! Mark the calendars for December 14th! I can't wait for home cooked dinners by papa Bradley, Christmas cookies, reading my the fire, starbucks coffee, the smell of my Gram and Grampa's house, hugs from all my family and so much more!! I love you and all as always sending warm wishes and thoughts to everyone xoxo





Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Days are Ahead


A sad weekend for Kenya was had and it only continues. For those who haven’t already heard a major shopping mall in Nairobi was attacked by Al-Shabab, shooting many and taking others hostage. My heart feels so heavy speaking and even thinking about this horrible act and it makes me question so many things in this world… I am happy to say that I was not there, I feel incredibly grateful and blessed not to have been, Westgate being a place that many international workers and PCVs go to for a good meal, frozen yoghurt and above all to feel safe and comfortable.  My heart breaks for those who are still hostage, I can’t imagine the terror they must all be feeling. What I am also heartbroken about is what this will do for the international outlook on this country that I call my home. I fought so hard to assure my family when they came that it was safe here, nothing to fear and then just weeks later this happens…However we can’t say that its just Kenya, how many shootings have happened in America just in these past two years? And you can’t say that it is just Muslims, I’ve visited many Muslim communities here in Kenya and they have been the most peaceful accepting people I have ever met. It’s so sad that a small few can cause such turmoil, spread such fear, smear the names of good places and good people and take innocent lives.
I am so grateful that my family was able to come when they did. I’m grateful that they saw all the good that is here in Kenya. That they will know that this act is something that could have happened anywhere and they are safe in America now… Thank you for all your prayers and good vibes coming this way. I can feel them every second of every day.
On a good note, my brother and cousins visit was amazing here. We spent the time travelling a lot through Kenya, eating good food, soaking in the sun and seeing a lot of wildlife. I feel blessed that I was able to share this all with them. My brothers successfully taught my students the games of Capture the Flag (which my students ask me to play everyday) and heads up seven up. They met many of the people here that I now call family and I feel so grateful that I now have people over in America that have a better understanding of my life here. I also attended my COS (close of service) conference in naivasha just last week. We were able to share parts of our service and be excited about the future. All of my group have such exciting ideas for the next step after Peace Corps and I am so excited to see what everyone does. As for myself I’m hoping to break into the International School community.  It would be such a great opportunity to continue what I have grown to love, teaching and traveling. The developing world is so special, I’m amazed everyday and I think that is something worth holding on to.  My official COS date is December 6th!!  I will hopefully be doing a little traveling on my way home and then officially being home for Christmas. I’m worried about the cold…but as long as that is my only worry I think that I am pretty fortunate! Keep your prayers and good thoughts coming, my last few months I need them more than ever!! Miss you and love you all. xoxo 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My little piece of Home!

Hello Everyone,
Excited to tell the world that Amanda Tellvik is with me in Kenya! She has been an amazing guest and has really blown me away.  She got off the plane in Kisumu at around 11:00 in the hot afternoon where I got a hug that was hard to let go of. The Kisumu- Kakamega highway that I live off of (if you could really call it a highway...) is being reconstructed so Father Lwangu decided the back way into Eregi is how we would go. If I were Mandy I would have been shitting my pants because we went through some tiny dirt roads in the middle of the bush and I'm sure she was wondering where I was living and questioning my sanity. But we came to my village and she saw that its a quant little village and I live on a beautiful college compound and I think she became very much at ease. But I didn't let her rest for more than 30 min. until I had her out the door because my phone was ringing off the hook with my entire village wanting to meet her. We went to some of my friends homes and she ate probably every Kenyan food they make. Chapati (like a tortilla flat bread), githeri (maze and beans), ndengu (a green lentil), kuku (chicken), Tea, avocado juice, sukuma wiki (kales), and my Luhya peoples favorite UGALI! Which she describes a tasteless paste...She tried everything no matter what it looked like, but we also developed sayings, so when I would say something like "Oh...sorry, mandy is actually a vaggetarian", that I actually mean "don't you dare pick up that piece of food and eat it." After two days of village life, we hopped on a shuttle and travelled to nairobi the way all the locals travel here in Kenya. She and I were both grateful there were no chickens as fellow passengers. It was a long ride and she did well. Driving through Western, Rift Valley and on to the city of Nairobi. Today we will wander so she can see the city and then hop on a plane to the coastal town Watamu. A town that has a very strong Italian presence, so much so that the children shout "Ciao Ciao!" instead of "Jambo!" We are both excited to get some quality girl time laying on a beach soaking in the sunshine and warm ocean water. After a few days in Watamu we will head on up to Lamu, one of my favorite places here in Kenya, where by brothers will also meet us!!!!! It has been SOOO fun getting filled in on family and friends and hearing all about her boys back home who are probably missing her so much (can't thank you guys enough for letting her come here).  I will of course keep you all posted on the rest of our travels, so far every time that I try to check to make sure she is ok in situations she looks completely unfazed! Thinking of you all and sending lots of love, until the next update I will be in complete bliss enjoying my little piece of home :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Breaking the Silence!


Hello everyone, may I first start with apologizing for my long absence! Things have really started to get away from me lately and I finally am forcing myself to sit down and write what has needed to be written for the past month! Another month here has past with a blink of an eye and the constant thought of what is to come next is in my every thought! The countdown began when we got an email from Peace Corps asking our nearest airport to home so they could start booking our flights. WOW! That really hit me in the gut.  It is so scary to think of starting a new chapter and I have been really trying hard to figure out my next move. It is amazing the connections and opportunities that have opened up to me since doing the peace corps and I can’t wait to see what I end up doing next. Seems to always surprise even myself! I do know that I would like to continue working internationally.  My hope is to teach in International Schools, which thankfully I have some guidance from family friends and colleagues here. This means yes, I’ll be coming back home, but hopefully not for too long! I promise to let everyone know when I arrive though and hopefully I will stick around for a few months in order to see everyone and get back in the loop of all that has happened these past few years. But that is still a few months ahead of me and there is still much to do and experience here before all that happens!

A big event that is happening soon is a visit from my cousin Mandy and my brothers!!! YAY! I am so excited!! Can you imagine not seeing your siblings in almost 2 years? I can! And its torture! I can’t wait to show them my life and hear more about home and theirs. I’m also so grateful that my cousin Mandy is coming who I have been so close with my whole life. She is going to balance out all that boy time. I’m so grateful that I have family who are willing to come and want to experience what I’ve been living the past few years. Takes a lot of love and courage from them and I can’t wait to share it! Don’t worry Mom, Dad and Jeff (Mandy’s husband), I promise to send them home in one piece! But they certainly will leave with a new perspective and friends from Kenya. J

Teacher’s strike happened last month and lasted 4 weeks here! It was the longest strike that has happened in awhile. The teachers were serious about getting paid when they were promised back in 1997. However, the new government wouldn’t budge and no progress was made. Teachers will not be getting anything for their strike and school was halted for nothing. I can say that they new government promised Kenya a lot, but the only changes and attitudes that I have seen since the elections have only been for the worst. I’m a bit scared and worried for Kenya’s future and progress, but time can only tell.  Since we were off for 4 weeks however, I was able to visit many friends and have a great time (which is why I was so silent for the past few weeks, pole sana!). Had a 4th of July on the water, as I’m sure many of you did as well (however a very different ocean).  We started school yesterday, first days are always my favorite and I purposefully arrive about 30 minutes late so that when I arrive the kids get SO exciting and I get hugged all at once. It’s my favorite moment to see all their faces light up at once.

Anyways, I apologize again for the silence! Hope you all are well, think about you all everyday! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Round Of Applause!


I’ve tried starting a few of these this past month, however none of them made it to the page (as you can see). Finally I feel as though things are stabilizing enough that I have some foresight into my near future.  Even if it is only a few weeks of foresight, it is definitely better than it was about a week ago!

So, if you’ve been watching the news you will already know that Kenya just recently had their presidential elections.  Kenya’s previous presidential elections (stated lightly) didn’t go so well. Peace Corps actually evacuated all volunteers.  So, this time around they took every precaution necessary to make sure we were ready for anything. A few days before the big event we were all (100+) consolidated near Machakos (where I lived for my 2 months of training). We were to prepare ourselves for an evacuation, pack up our homes, say goodbye and explain to our communities that we didn’t know if we would be coming back or not…not the easiest thing to go through. What caused a lot of stress and anxiety in the beginning however turned out to be really wonderful and unique experience for Peace Corps volunteers. I got to meet all of the volunteers in country!  And what an amazing group of people! We kept ourselves busy by having committee meetings, collaborating, and doing planning for upcoming trainings. We hosted our own PC Kenya Olympics and other events (which I was quite impressed with, we are a talented group!) All of that, along with good company and relaxing pool time, it was a very nice vacation. I can’t say that I would feel the same way about all of it if it weren’t for the Kenyan people keeping the peace and letting all of us enjoy ourselves. We had meetings twice a day, morning and evening and I can’t begin to tell you how my stomach would knot before every single one, waiting to hear something terrible had happened. But it didn’t!! So, even though Kenya may not have made the most logical choice of President… I am proud and so happy to still be here!

I am now back at site, had my first day of school on Friday. I was walking up during assembly; the kids and teachers all silently looking upwards towards the raising flag. When one student notices me walking up and starts a commotion, she starts clapping and so do the rest of the students…Yes, my students gave me a round of applause!  The teachers looked at me expectantly, like this was some American thing I had taught the kids to do and I was meant to do something in return… I just stared back at them with an equally confused look.  Clearly my kids are still working on expressing their excitement when I show up after a period of absence. A few of my girls did hug me after assembly and my little kids fought over who got to hold my hand and braid my hair for the rest of the day. I’ve never been happier to have my hair pulled out or my hand held by little grubby fingers all day.

At the end of consolidation our Country Director started announcing some of the “Big Upcoming Events”. The last one announced was our COS (Close of Service)…Hard to believe! I've been hit with some perspective and I will be soaking up every last moment I have here.