From counting day every day, posting on my tumblr everyday, forgetting to post, going to all these different places, teaching, and everything in between it’s been an amazing year and a few months. I came to Kenya June 6th not knowing anything or anyone. I arrived at the airport at night, found a short skinny man with my name on a piece of paper… and the rest is history.
I set out exactly what I wanted to do and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I impacted the school, the kids, and the program. Together along with the other music teachers we improved our program, raised the level, I instilled my values as a teacher, and had some fun on the side =)
From learning how to ride a motorcycle in Zanzibar, road tripping to Uganda, bungee jumping over the nile, petting cheetahs, seeing all the wildlife a person needs to in their life time, the adventures seem to pile on. Being on national television twice, the inside cover of the newspaper, and meeting and playing with Riccardo Muti are just a few of the adventures that highlight this unpredictable year. One day when I am home in NY and I have a real fast internet connection, I’ll add some pictures that the world hasn’t seen.. haha!
From having 0 friends a year ago, I look through my phone book and can’t even remember some of my contacts. I have established a great rapport with my school the faculty, the students, and made friends that I will keep in touch with for years to come.
I’ll miss this school. Everyone here has treated me with the utmost respect… and maybe too much! For my students: I’ll miss them more than they will know. When you don’t have many friends in a country, I would reach out to my students. No matter if they were 6 or 16. The students would always tell me, “Mr. Andrew, why are you always telling us your problems…?” We’ll if they read this… maybe they’ll understand =) They were there for me as I was there for them.
As everyone knows in my school, I’ll only be a 3 hour matatu ride away living in Nairobi. And if Thika Road finishes… maybe an hour and a half! I’ll be the Head of Music at Nairobi Academy, and during my spare time trying to be an awesome squash player.
I feel like I have done a good job, and now the reality sets in that I am all done here. It’s extremely sad. I feel empty, but I feel accomplished. It was amazing meeting and having Gillian Clements here. She started the program in 2006. She is a tremendous person, and she started this beautiful strings program here. The program is all set for the next strings teacher; Rachel Nesvig. She will do a terrific job, I am sure. She has the right personality and attitude to succeed here. It’s really sad to walk around school and it be so quiet. The reality sets in that my work here is done, and I am no longer the strings teacher here. I never thought I would be so connected, but it is what happened.
I am happy I left on a good note, and if this is the beginning of my teaching career, I would say I am off to a good start.
I spent a couple of hours with the kids tonight making decorations for the music room, and my laptop was sitting there playing music. I come home to open my laptop there’s a note that says, “Night Mr. Andrew.” with one of my students initials.
From the last post, countless things have happened to me, I can’t even remember them all. I guess that’s why I should keep my blog more serious like I used to!
Here are just a few things: Went to Uganda, went to Lamu, bungee jumped over the nile river, white water rafted, slept in a rat infested room, flew in a private plane from a school, got a new job as a head of music at Nairobi Academy, met Rachel Nesvig (the next teacher in the line at MKA Strings), have a new apartment in Karen, played with Riccardo Muti and met him, was in the newspaper and on television, performed the Handel Halvorsen Passacaglia with Rachel in Nairobi, and probably a million more awesome things that I am forgetting.
Anyway…. I was meant to come home June 6th, but I figured I would extend my stay until August 17th, and it worked out well, because I’ll be moving to Karen in September. I will start teaching at Nairobi Academy September 12! They have sweet squash courts, a great music room, and I have a great apartment! I will try to bring my cello over in September too.
I have a lot of mixed emotions now that the strings program at MKA is out of my hands. I am extremely pleased with it, I think it has improved since I got here, and that’s all I set out to do. I wanted to inspire the kids, have a great relationship with them, try out new things as a beginning teacher, and now that I am wrapping up my year and few months… it feels as though I have been teaching for some time now! The program is in great hands, and the kids are responding great to our new teacher and my new friend Rachel Nesvig. The extra long layover period that we had here was fantastic, and very good for her. It’s the longest layover period in MKA strings history but I hope that with every year our program gets better and better. I think in the coming days I will try to write more about the program and my feelings for it. In one year I have become so connected to these kids, country, school and everything else. People say Kenya is addicting… and it is that and much more. I absolutely treasure these kids. From standard 1 to Form 4, they’re more than students to me. A teacher once told me when I go into the teaching world, don’t be their friends, just be friendly….. but when you move to a different country not knowing anyone, and it is a boarding school…. the 1st graders become your best friends =0 Even if your day is awful, teaching is going badly, knowing that these kids smile when they see is win win situation for everyone. If you ever need a breath of fresh air, these kids will help you out.
SIDE NOTE. Uganda is a crazy place. I was tear gassed, road motorcycles everywhere, slept in a room with rats, bungee jumped…. to name a few.
So the end is coming. Gillian Clements who started the program will come this weekend, and our school term ends this month. I am just as sad as the students here, but I’ll be back! I’ll come to visit since I’ll only be about 3 hours away from MKA. I can never forget MKA…. it was one of my first teaching experiences and one of the most important I am sure. I’ll post a bunch of pictures of what has been happening… and one of these days when I am home in New York I can post a lot more. I just have thousands of pictures…..!!!
"Every class, every conversation, is a chance to learn."
The past month has flown by and been extremely busy! I am in the middle of interviewing for different programs and what not, we are on the cusp of a midterm break, and I have to take the GRE exam again and try to get a better score.
This weekend Kenya has the Young Musicians Competition. I have been asked to judge, so that is extremely exciting! It’s funny.. the thought of judging DDR competitions just came into my head… I never did that, but for some reason it popped into my head. I wonder if they have DDR machines in Kenya.
I am excited to be at the competition, to see the talented musicians of Kenya, and also network with the music community in Kenya.
I have been reading a lot more about the music education program, El Sistema, and it amazes me with every article/essay I read.
Don’t mess with Eric Booth. Check out what books he’s written.
If you are at all interested in education, read anything this “teaching artist” writes, and either your jaw will drop, or you’ll keep saying wow. Or maybe I’m just a geek about education. El Sistema is just such a positive, and innovative way of teaching individuals. The word community pops out at me when I hear of El Sistema, and from that the students learn together, from each other, and from every experience. The one thing I really enjoyed reading in one of Eric Booth’s essays was the fact that when a person walks into one of these El Sistema Programs, every kid will go to that person and try to learn from them. To quote his essay, “Every class, every conversation, is a chance to learn.” To have that mentality is a beautiful thing, and eventually when I have my own program I will instill that from day one. There are so many philosophies from El Sistema, that if you incorporate them in your teaching skill set, it will transform you students and you as a teacher. Your students will no longer be students, but the will be artists, students, and teachers. One does not have to fully embody the El Sistema approach, but if a teacher can learn the basics and the philosophies, it will make that teacher such a powerful “teaching artist.”
I am in charge of a string program... but I want to START a string program.
A lot has happened since the last time I updated. I met a whole bunch of tremendous people, I am judge for the Young Musicians Competition, we have a really good string orchestra now, and I have been applying to schools and programs to get ready for life after Kenya.
I’ll start with the people I met… We had some visitors from the US, and he was headlined by Ashley Bryan. He wrote about 40 children’s books, and has done a whole lot more. Wikipedia has tons of information about. He came along with some other people, a very intelligent doctor, two women that have a foundation that provide books and libraries for schools in Kenya, a 19 year old student that wrote a book at age 15, and a psychotherapist. All of these inspiring people are all connected to Mt. Kenya Academy in one way or another, and now are even more connected. We went to the Serena Mountain Lodge, where we got to know each other and watch animals from our hotel rooms. It was amazing listening to Ashley Bryan…the man could recite poems like no other. He had so many poems, he had one if you dropped your fork. He is like a character out of a movie. Anyway, I had an amazing time, and it was great getting to know the Superhero team of Ashley Bryan.
I keep thinking about what I want to do after my tenure here in Mt. Kenya Academy. So many things come to mind.. do I want to go to school, get a masters and a doctorate? Do I want to stay in Kenya and make a difference with string music, and pioneer cello? A lot of me wants to build an awesome orchestra here in a school, and pioneer cello. At the moment music is growing in Kenya, and they don’t have too many string programs. If someone were here, and did a string program/orchestra correct in several years one could make a school orchestra famous in this country! They could play everything from standard literature, and then even fuze traditional Kenyan music. I would love to make something like that happen. Just make an unbelieveable string orchestra that would knock people off their feet here in Kenya. Sure, one could start an amazing program, like one of my teachers David Beck, and it could be great. But in places like New York…. you are competing against incredible teachers/players. I am not trying to sound like a cop out, but here since there aren’t many string programs, it’s taking advantage of the opportunity. I know I could do it, I just need the interest among the students, the time in their busy days to put the practice in, and of course tons of help from the school/administration. I know it could happen at Mt. Kenya Academy, especially with the talent at the senior school at the moment, but for some reason I don’t see the seriousness at the school for string instruments/orchestra. Maybe it’s because the lack of a steady teacher? I try to preach to the students to be serious and to take orchestra serious and it’s slowly working but the thing I’m talking about would take years for it to happen. You would have to start a lot of students, hope that they stay at the same school, continue with the instruments, and then by the time they are high school, you will see a fantastic product.
I’m not sure if I would want to start a program from scratch, or continue a program like at Mt. Kenya Academy. Sure, this is the place one can do it, but with a new teacher in sight, it won’t be me.
I hope I have made a lasting impression… and I hope to continue to make an impression in the next 4-5 months.
One of my goals in life to start a program, and to see it come to fruition. Maybe it’s right in front of me and I didn’t realize it…
I know what I want. I want to start a string program from scratch in Kenya, but with an American educational system structure. The students start in Standard (grade) 4, and continue the instrument all the way through. Sure the students in the school that want to learn at an older age can, but when those students clear, and the Standard 4’s are the older age, that’s when one will see the program taking off. I guess you would have to say, the only time you can pick an instrument is Standard 4, or you miss the opportunity to play an instrument. If you want to play an instrument at an older grade, maybe an option is to play privately until you are the level of the program, and then you can join. I guess also, you need a school that usually has students go from Grade 1 to clearing Senior School. For example, if you started a policy in MKA that you must start in Standard 4, by Standard 8 you will have great students…. but not all of those students go to the Senior School. And I’m not sure if our attractive Senior School String program, would be enough to sway them to go to the school.. or would it?
Man… 4 months to go, and it feels like yesterday I was here with Zach..
I love living here, and I love teaching at Mt. Kenya Academy. When you see the finish line, it makes one realize a lot of things. A few of those things… how amazing this job is. I wake up, and JUMP out of my mosquito net wrapped bed, I get to teach the most interesting and willing to learn kids. Now that all of the students are so used to me, it’s great seeing how they’ll great me everyday. How the little 6, 7 year olds will jump on me, punch, and kick me….in a good way. Being able just to play basketball with the kids before my lessons at the Senior School, or jump in the pool, play soccer or rugby… where else are you going to get that! I know if I was working at a public school back home, I would just be teaching till 3, then going home. Plus the views from this school are breathtaking. I mean… nestled in the Aberdare Mountains…? Come on…
We’ll see what happens with programs and schools, but one option is to stay in Kenya, and possibly find a job in Nairobi.. the reason for this? One plan I have is to stay in Nairobi teach music, but more importantly teach cello to Kenyans. At the moment there aren’t really any cello teachers in Kenya. I want to start cello in this country, and make the cello a thriving instrument… much like the “rock guitar” is in Kenya. What better way to start, than in Nairobi.
Another option… is of course go back to school. I am looking into University of Miami, and of course the big one…. the Abreu Fellowship, as part of the El Sistema program. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have more on all of this.
But again… it’s going to be hard to leave this place, I have really grown attached, and who couldn’t be…. Sorry people.. I have the coolest job. Tomorrow I get to go on a trip with Ashley Bryan a famous writer, his friends, to the Serena Mountain Lodge, where you can see wild animals from your hotel room.
So things have been a little stressful lately… The music room isn’t done at the junior school, so we will wait until it’s done to teach the lessons there. Well…thats not very stressful actually.
I’m working on getting my roster for junior and senior school, and I think we should have that done tomorrow. I think I’ll only accept a certain amount of students, I’m “weeding” out the students that don’t practice and that just take music to take music. I mean… I know one kid takes music because the two girls he likes takes music… he’s a good kid, and wants to learn cello, but I have to tell him I can’t take him. Maybe if he starts practicing!!! We can put him in next term.
The general feel of senior school is great, sure I miss the Form 4s that graduated A LOT, but that’s how teaching goes, every year a class leaves.
I have this GRE test coming up on Thursday, and I am not looking forward to it. I probably should have scheduled it much later, and really studied for it, but I’ll take it, and talk to the admissions at Miami. Hopefully everything else outweighs my score, and they can cut me a break or let me retake it in a few months.. who knows. I mean.. they take really dumb football players in ivy league schools. Although, I would be entering the world of academia again. Who knows.. the dialogue between the professors have been good. I have spoken to the head of music education, the Dean, and the head of Graduate Admissions, and they have all said good things.
I’m just eager to get back into a routine, and get back to teaching. I’m going to limit my numbers big time, so that I can focus more on quality. At first I thought the best thing would be to increase numbers, but it just can’t work here, based on the facilities and resources. I’ll cut the numbers, and get these kids playing real well.
Anyway…. I was about to sit down to study for my GRE’s and… the power went out for hours. It’s now 8:30 and I want to sleep, I don’t exactly have the energy to study!!
So today was move-in day for the junior and senior school. Remember that feeling that you get when you move in at college? Or that feeling getting ready for the first day of school? Or…. that feeling of every new class… seeing what new students are in the class? Well, it’s the exact same feeling when your a teacher. I guess if your not a teacher, those feelings stop after college… but being a teacher, you get those feelings every year.
Currently the renovation of the music room at junior school is in limbo… so I’m not really sure where I will teach my lessons. I’m thinking I take a short 2 weeks from teaching at junior school, and then just teach two lessons a week for a few to catch up. Other than that stuff is good, being in a school is so fun… I really think they should make reality shows about teachers. The funny stuff that teachers do and talk about in the faculty room is worth putting on TV.
O…. our trip to Naro Moru was sweet! Team building is awesome! At first I doubted the guy conducting the seminar, but at the end I had a lot of respect for him and it was really good to go on a mini retreat with the teachers. Especially for me, being a teacher that has only been here for 6 months, and that I teach at 2 schools. It was great to get to know the teachers on a personal level, and all of us really enjoyed it.
After being delayed by the blizzard in New York, I got to Kenya on Friday, and went down to the coast. Went to my favorite resort and was treated like a king… bahaha!
Hour massages every morning, breakfast lunch, dinner, tea time, snack bar, and an open bar. Balcony view of the Indian Ocean, and a beautiful beach. It was great going back to the resort, because it was like I had friends there! Well… I do! All of the staff were really nice to me, and I got to hang out with a lot of the people around my age that work there.
Back to MKA, Nyeri. Once at my apartment, I found my apartment without a door, and no POWER!!! I lit a few candles, and jumped into bed.
At the least my goal is to put one picture on my blog everyday! The days that I have lots of time, I will put a lot of pictures, and try to put videos… because I have a new camera with HD video. So 2011 goal: At least one picture on the blog, if I have time, a written post, and lots of time I’ll put videos!!
Tomorrow there is a faculty field trip to the Naro Moru River Lodge, which is a lodge at the base of Mt. Kenya.
I think I finally got past everyone staring at me in Nyeri town. Before I would look around a lot, and look at people look at me… which is odd. Anyway, I realized why the hell am I doing that, just run your own race, who cares! I went to town today, and just didn’t have a care in the world, and it was really good =!
I’m home. I think I’ll start counting my days when I get back to school for the second half.. for now im on holiday baby!
New York - Being from New York is really cool…plain and simple. Living in New York is everything it’s cracked up to be… and a lot more. I’m sure all of my Kenyan friends are thinking… “here goes Andrew being cocky again.” It’s ok to think that way, and it’s ok to not agree with me. You’re not supposed to agree with every thing I say. Let’s not digress… New York; I walk through Nairobi, and not many people will look at me, but in general people look at each other and there a lot of exchanges of glances. In New York…people don’t even want to look at you.. haha You might think.. oh boy.. those people are rude! Well…New Yorkers do have a reputation of being rude, and tough. School of hardknocks baby! It is just so great that I can hop in my car, go grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks, shop at the mall, go to the gym, or just relax at my house. Driving is probably one of the best things about being back to be honest with you. I am someone that drives everywhere, and I haven’t been with my car for 6 months!! I enjoy just driving around listening to my favorite CDs and radio stations, and thinking I’m really cool driving in my car. I’ll write a bit more about NY next post when I remember what I wanted to say.
So Starbucks is a really funny place. In Kenya they have a place like it.. called Java House. Java House is like heaven in Kenya, but Starbucks is such a TRENDY place. It looks so nice there, the smell is amazing, the drinks are great, and EVERYONE is there with their macbook bros and iPads. (boy, after proofreading this paragraph I realized how badly written it is… o well!)
I have been so excited everyday I have been home. Just driving around, knowing that I teach and live in Africa is like a natural high all the time. If for a second I’m not feeling great, I think of the crazy things I have been through in 6 months, and the task of running a string program, and I feel great again. I go from place to place, people ask me what I have been doing, the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, “WOW! That must be an incredible experience.” Well… that’s an understatement.
Now if I was teaching in Albany and didn’t take the job in Kenya, and I tell people I was in Albany teaching, they would just say oh, ok thats good. Just another rat in the race. I didn’t do this experience to get good reactions from people, but in the world of getting a job and interviews, this experience has a ton of weight.
I miss my students A LOT in Kenya! I didn’t think I would miss them as much as I do.. but when you see these kids every single day, and you tell them stuff going on in your life and such, it is only human to miss them. If any of you read this… miss you guys! In some cases, they are the closest people to me at the school.
I saw some African women in the mall the other day. Now that I think of it Roosevelt Field Mall, must be like 4 Westgates.. HA! They were all dressed up like they were manikans in a Express magazine, but they had their hair wrapped like people in Kenya. I also heard them speaking Swah.. but what I thought was how COOL they looked! They looked like tourists because two things! They were lost.. and they had their head wrapped. Now…I thought it looked awesome how they dressed very trendy, but also tied in a traditional fashion twist. It’s like they wanted to tell everyone, “Look…I’m not from here, but I look really good!” I don’t know why people in Kenya don’t do that as much. Wear your fashionable clothes, but then toss in a little traditional Kenya, it would make you stand out so much more =)
I’ll try to write a lot more during this month, especially when I found out people actually read my blog!!! Thank you so much for checking in, and not finding any updates for so long! The end of the year was just a rollercoaster, but now that I have time, I’ll be filling you in with posts, pictures, and videos when I get my new camera!
Days are flying by in Kenya. I am almost at the halfway point! I think this will be the hardest month… it’s like seeing the finish line during a race, so the anticipation is tough to deal with! Not to mention it’s only the halfway finish line.
Anyways, things have been good. Teaching has been going well. A few exciting things are hopefully getting some new instruments, new bows, and hopefully our new music room is ready by Jan! At first the administration was going to take down the old music room, but I pleaded to keep it, because it would be a great room for….an ORCHESTRA ROOM!!! If the orchestra students had their own room it would be very helpful and make a HUGE difference. One problem I see is that we have 5 music teachers, and we have one music room! At least if the string students have their room, then the brand new room can be used for guitars and piano students! My dream here would be to have, a small orchestra/lesson room, practice rooms, an office, and a music library! It could happen and I am willing to put as much time into making this happen.
One exciting thing I have to write about is that my friend Sophie is a fantastic artist painted me while playing cello! It only took her about an hour and a half, and it came out beautiful. Hopefully she will sell at her exhibition in Dubai this weekend, and maybe I will be on someone’s wall for a long time haha!
i know you have seen too much in kenya but not all of us have that mentality. am a kenyan en am from nyeri en i am a handworking student . is not for my parent or my teacher i have goals to accomplish en i wanna have a brighter tomorrow.so not all of us who have that party mentality. some of us we know what we went to school for en we wanna have better future not a sorry future.
Thanks for your comment. I know a lot of Kenyans don’t have that mentality. It’s only a certain percentage that have that mentality. Also I was talking to some of my co-workers and after an explanation from them I understand this a little better. People here start getting jobs a lot later than what I am used to, and it explains a lot of this “mentality I am talking about.” For example, a person is 25 nd gets their first job, their first salary, and they want to spend their money and have fun. I completely understand that point and it makes a lot of sense to me. Also when students start university is another contributing factor. I finished university when I had just turned 22, when some people in Kenya are just going to university when they are 22. Personally, I had my fun in university from the age of 18-22, so now being 23, I tend to relax and move away from that. Hope this makes sense!
There is so much to talk about and not enough time to post on my blog everyday!
I have realized so much about culture in Kenya. It’s not the culture you think about or the culture you read about in Anthropology textbooks, but I have realized a lot of influences on the youth of Kenyans. A big percentage of the youths in Kenya are focused on partying. I told a 16 year old student today, that I have the mentality of myself, work, then if I have time I might go out and have some fun. And when I said myself, and work first she had the most astonished look on her face. I believe it is because they are influenced by the western POP culture. Not the western culture, but pop culture. They see Weezy videos and they see guys with LA or NYY hats, big chains, and they try to copy that. Let me describe the typical youths and how they dress:
Guys, will wear a baseball cap that I’m sure they don’t even know the team. Plastic aviators that are bright blue and match their bright blue plastic high tops with no laces. Fake Gucci belts, a bright shirt, and their pants halfway down their legs. I bet if they walked into a ghetto neighborhood in NYC they would either a be mugged, or b, laughed at.
Girls wear the skimpiest clothing when they are going out. If they aren’t going out they are wearing the brighest colors and the tallest heels. I feel that they try to copy these rap music videos and all the tabloid magazines. I mean sure, if you have a special event and you need to get dressed up fine, the heels and miniskirts are ok, but not EVERY NIGHT!
And the other thing is how 2am is not really late here. It’s like a contest to go to every club and stay out until the sun comes up. I understand you will hear the lyrics “we party till the sun comes up” but where I’m from we don’t really that every weekend.
In any event, it’s their culture, it’s what they do. I either have to avoid it entirely or jump in every once and a while. Oh another thing….I was talking to this girl, she was maybe a few years older than me, and she was so happy to tell everyone how drunk and hungover she was until Tuesday after her “awesome” weekend. I don’t know about you, but being hungover is awful, and is not something to be proud of. Maybe it’s a maturity thing, maybe I’m just an asshole, or maybe it’s just how these people thing. It seems like some of these people want to just brag about how much they party and how they blackout. People where I’m from talk like that too, but that was probably 5 years ago, and I’m 23.
On the eve of day 100, I have 100% realized it’s a waste of time to plan all of my activities every day. In college I did the common thing of writing out every hour, and what I was to do every hour. I tried to do that loosely here but I have realized it doesn’t even matter because things always pop up. It doesn’t happen in a bad way, it just derails my plans or forces me to do them later or the next day. Teaching has been going really well, and the program here is doing fantastic! So last term we had about 16 students, and we’re now up to the number of 37 at the senior school!! I think I’ll have to refuse the three new students that joined, but to me that seems crazy! It’s my program, and I would love to have 100 students and a gigantic program, but here it doesn’t work that way. I met with Scott Hawkings and his wife, and they are absolutely lovely people. It was extremely refreshing to speak with them and especially to talk baseball! Scott’s son had played with David Price at Vanderbuilt and Scott has a friend that is a part owner of the Red Sox. Eventually they want the program at the senior school to be selective and to have to be auditioned. I agree with this, but then what happens to the students that want to start at the age of 14 or something? As I have seen, these students will practice and they are getting really good at their respective instruments for starting at such a late age. I will try to get the brass players to play in the orchestra with us, I think that will be a big step, although we are without woodwinds =( Back to having lots of students… 100 would be so cool, but it would be way too much for me to handle. Even having 37 students I find myself teaching from 9am to 9pm Monday through Wednesday, and half days on Friday and Saturday. David Beck was so right when he told me as a teacher you create your own heaven and hell. That reminds me… I have to e-mail him and thank him probably for the 50th time for being such a great mentor. I’ll start combining the students at Senior School so I’m not killing myself on time, and I should be able to handle about 35 students here and about 60 students at Junior School. The trouble is that I can’t teach the Senior School students during the day, so it forces me to have long nights. It cuts into my time to cook dinner!! Anyways, it’s working, and the good thing is the program and my schedule is getting better each week.
Our orchestra is playing Alejandro by Lady Gaga, and they love it! It’s so great to see the students practicing for sooo long. Sure.. it’s a pop song, but it’s helping them a lot, and to get them in the practice room and to see this drive to practice is great. I told them we can’t perform it or play it in orchestra until they learn William Tell Overture. I forgot what else I wanted to talk about honestly… I’ll have some time tomorrow, so maybe I’ll try and take some good pictures of students and post them. Although…. Things that I plan usually don’t happen in the order I organize them. It actually keeps everyday extremely exciting (how about that for alliteration), and keeps me on my toes.
Today was quite an interesting day. Part of me felt bad for being pretty strict and as the students would say “mean.” I enforced a rule at the dining hall which isn’t really enforced by most teachers, but is strictly enforced by the principle. I truly felt bad, and I think it’s because I’m close with the students, but the other part of me justified it completely. I have to put my foot down and enforce rules. I am a teacher and I can’t let kids think I’m not. Even if I am young, these students have to respect me like a teacher. I’m not their friend, I’m extremely friendly to them, but in all reality they are my students. I think it was a good move, because I have to be strict, I can’t let these students think I’m one of them but teach strings at the same time. Sorry guys! I already went to high school! I am a teacher, this is my job, I get paid; I have to be strict and enforce rules. If they respect me and follow the rules, they will see the “cool” side of me, and have a ton of fun while learning. I’ll joke with them, have fun, and all of that stuff, but they have to have respect, as I respect them.
In the past nine days a ton of new stuff has happened. I bought unlimited internet which makes my life so much more comfortable! I can videochat all I want, I even got MLB TV so I can watch and listen to Yankees games!! I am very organized with buying groceries and I have a good schedule of eating well. There are a few things I want to talk about in the past 9 days; the students here, how they interpret the West, the string program, and the future!
Before I start writing about that, I am still getting settled for Term III. I really wanted to try and get to Nairobi on the weekend, teach a cello lesson, and try and take Muay Thai lessons, but I have just been so busy! I really hope I can make it there next weekend.
The students here and how they interpret the West is tough to explain. A lot of people, not just the students, but when they see white people here they just assume they have money. Newsflash…. I DON’T HAVE MONEY!!! No I don’t live on the streets and I’m not poor, but they think I’m rich! Listen people, when I go back to the states I owe the government thousands of US dollars in college loans. The kids here think High School in the states is a breeze and all they do is have fun. WRONG. I studied a good amount, and didn’t even finish in the top half of my class! Our grading was even harder, 65 was failing.. here.. 50 is failing!! About my Form 4 students, I am definitely going to miss them when they graduate in the middle of November. A, my orchestra will suffer! And B the Form 4s are fun to talk to and teach, and I only got to teach them for about 3 and a half months.
As I tell the cello students, “You picked a good and a bad time to start cello.” Bad because our cellos are in terrible shape. Cellos are supposed to have 8 strings, between the 2 at Senior School we have 5 strings. One has no A and no C string, the other has no C and no endpin. It’s tough when we have 13 cello players at the Senior School. “You picked a good time because we’re getting a lot of new cellos!!” It’s extremely exciting! We are also in the process of getting new violins, new strings, and new bows for the program!! I also want to try and get Manhasset music stands, but I have no idea how to make that happen! Another milsestone that happened was teaching the girls at night! For those of you that aren’t familiar with what happens here at MKA, at 6:30 the girls are locked up in the dorm for the night, and the boys are on campus studying and whatnot. Because I have so many more students, and most of them are girls, I talked to the correct people, and made it possible for me to teach them one by one at night! WIN!
The future. I go on facebook a lot to see what other people are doing with their lives… and I come across my fellow college students finishing their masters, and starting their doctorates at 27!! It got me thinking long and hard last night about what I’m doing and what I want to do. After thinking for a while, I am very happy with my decision here, but it leads to the next question…. “What next??” The only thing I am bound by is my college loans and it forces me to get a job. Although, so much of me wants to go on to my masters degree and get a doctorate, but then part of me says…a doctorate is overrated!! I know there are plenty brilliant and successful people without one, and I know it’s very common for people to get higher education dregrees much later in life. I definitely need to get started on my college loans, get a teaching job, and get my masters degree soon, but again part of me wants to travel the world and teach!! We’ll see what happens, and I’ll cross that bridge when it comes, but I have a feeling it’s going to come fast, and I need to start thinking about it. At this point I want to apply to jobs all over the place, fellowships, masters programs, and then take it from there. I want to be very educated in music, teaching, and I want to become this.. SUPERTEACHER, but I have no idea how to achieve my goal. I know I both want and need to go back to school, but it would be nice to figure out the next step. Opportunity is a frightening thing. I know I have plenty of time here, and I am really excited to get this program moving. I am determined, driven, and committed to making this program strive, impress, and influence the community and the parents of all these children. I will start there, but…is it too soon to think of the next chapter?
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a written update and I’m sorry! To be honest, I have been too busy and too many things have been going on in the past month!
August is our holiday month, and since I have already spoken a little bit about Zanzibar I will fill you in on my Mombasa trip.
When I got off the plane in Mombasa I was so happy to be back in Kenya. I decided I would stay in the city of Mombasa, relax in a nice hotel, and get my bearings before I would go to the beach. I ended up getting my hair braided in Mombasa, which you will see on my facebook page. My hotel was very nice, and the food around town was good too. Mombasa is a great city compared to places like Nyeri; because no one cares that you are white. Often when I am in Nyeri it’s not enjoyable or comfortable to walk around town. They don’t see many white people in Nyeri, so you are always going to get comments, laughs, and looks. Mombasa was not like this due to the copious amount of tourists that go to Mombasa.
I took a matatu to the ferry and then prepared to board the ferry! I was the only white person on the ferry, and of course the priest that was preaching had to comment and single me out. No biggie, I’m used to it by now, I just laugh and smile. The ferry was hilarious; they literally PACK the ferry in like a matatu. Actually I was reading the paper a few days ago, and one of the ferries stalled in the middle of the water!!
I got off and took another matatu to a place called Ukunda. Ukunda is a small town right near Diani Beach, and then took ANOTHER taxi to the beach. I told the taxi driver, I want to go right on the beach, so I could find a hotel. When I stepped foot on the beach I was laughing so hard of how beautiful the ocean, and sand was. Also once I got off the taxi, the beach boys came. During my stay at Zanzibar and Mombasa, locals on the beach will sell you everything from drugs, snorkeling trips, and even just bringing you to a hotel or cottage. I told them to go away, and walked along the beach. The first resort was gigantic and looked like a fortress from the beach because of the security and whatnot, and I walked up to the reception. I didn’t even want to shop around and look for the best hotel, I just wanted some luxury! I found out it was well within my price range and decided to stay! I ended up staying for 7 nights, all inclusive. Breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, and…. Open bar. The hotel was gorgeous the food was great and I even got a honeymoon suite!! I had a beautiful balcony and the Indian Ocean was a few hundred feet from my view. I ended up getting a massage every morning because for one hour it was about 8 or so US dollars. I did some windsurfing, big game fishing, and mostly just swam in the ocean and the pool that was about 20 steps from my room. I played a lot of squash, and the first day I played I even beat the trainer.
There were times I would go out to local bars and such, but it was tough meeting locals in Diani. It is very hard to tell who are the people that genuinely want to be your friend and the people that just want you to buy them dinner or a drink. That part of the adventure got me a little frustrated, because for someone like me that is traveling by them self I wanted to meet people! Anyways, it didn’t stop me, I had a total blast! I went out with a few people from the hotel, some locals, and some tourists. It was literally like paradise staying at this beautiful resort. I would walk around smiling the entire time. I felt like I was dreaming for the week I stayed at Diani Beach, and I can’t wait to go back to Mombasa =)
Monday starts teaching, I will write more about that tomorrow, my Form 4 students, and a little about Nairobi.
yo! It’s pretty awesome! I like it here a lot, it’s very affordable, the one thing that sucks is I can’t take a hot shower! Even though it’s real hot here, I hate taking cold showers. I rented a motorcycle and had the time of my life, and I’ve been hanging at some of the local places, meeting people and just relaxing on the beach. The locals that harass you to buy their stuff, or go on their tours, are annoying and I want to scream at them, but other than that it’s awesome.
How are you ? Is the video getting close to being finished?
In the past few days I’ve managed to do a lot absolutely crazy things. Tuesday will be my fourth day here, and a lot has happened in that time. The food here is really good, I love the weather, and in general the people are very helpful and friendly. There is a side that I can’t stand, and that’s the locals that harass every tourist to either buy what they’re selling, take them around town, or just really anything. For the most part they have stopped trying to talk to me, A because I probably look pretty mean, or B, they have seen me for the past few days, so they know I know their routine.
I have managed to meet some pretty good people. A few tourists, a bunch of locals, and one local tour guide. At the moment I am paying 30,000 Tanzania shillings a night at this one hotel. The hotel is ok, except for no hot water…but I think unless your paying a lot at a hotel, that is quite rare here. The tour guide I met, who even invited me for some lunch at his house, and told me he has an apartment he will lent me rent for 20,000 shillings a month! There was one thing I liked about the first hotel, ESPN!!!! I’ll talk to him today, and see if I go through with it.
So yesterday and the day before were absolutely crazy. I met this guy on the street that told me he will rent me a 250CC dirt bike for a day. I agreed and told him…dude… I don’t know how to ride a bike. He told me “no problem” as most of the people in Kenya or Zanzibar tell me, and I learned how to ride one from a guy that spoke about 10% English. He took me on some soccer field and I learned in about 20 minutes. That night, I got really paranoid and thought I got scammed. First off, he said I needed a permit, and I told him I don’t want to spend extra money on that. Second, I realized he was just a guy on the street!! I woke up yesterday, and got ready for my trip with the bike… and he was there! At first I told him I wanted to change it for a vesper because I was a little nervous with the bike. It’s pretty scary when you don’t know the language, geography, or how to ride a motorcycle. Alas, he told me he didn’t have a vesper… so I jumped on the bike and road off into the sunset! The best idea I have had this entire trip. I road about 70? kilometers to the North Coast beach and it was absolutely beautiful riding along side the Indian Ocean. Once I got to North Coast however, it started DOWNPOURING…. I pulled over to a very small local restaurant and had some food there and waited for the rain to pass. I really had no idea where I was going, so I pulled into another local bar and spoke with some of the locals there. One guy was so excited to speak with me. A lot of these people LOVE to speak English, so they can practice their English. I have realized it will help them when they want to be real tour guides. He took me to the beach and where all the tourists are. I opted not to sit on the beach because of the copious amounts of clouds, but I did however manage to get my hair braided! I look like a cartoon character, but It’s pretty awesome.
Yes, during the time of my motorcycle escapade I wore a helmet, but followed no traffic rules or speed limits… because frankly there aren’t many at all. The cops tried to pull me over twice… but the problem with their system is, they are on foot trying to pull me over, so I flew right past them, There was one turn that was pretty scary, I was going about 30 or 40 km and the road turned into a powder dirt road, and my front wheel was wobbling a bit. I got very nervous, but I thought immediately to wiping out on a longboard, and managed to not crash. Besides that near death experience, I did really well on the bike.
Oh… the food. They have TONS of seafood here, Kingfish, Coral Shark, Octopus, Squid, you name they have it on a stick. They call it mishikaki, we Americans call Shish-Kebabs. Or I guess Americans don’t actually call it that…
I am scheduled to be here till NEXT Tuesday… but I messed up, it’s way too long, and unless I was with someone on vacation I would do it, but I will try to change my flight to Mombasa a bit earlier so A, I don’t run out of money, and B, I have more time in August, to maybe hang around Nairobi. There are still some people I need to meet and talk with, and set some music stuff up for after August. I am very paranoid about being on vacation and running out of money.. but the fact is stuff here is extremely cheap with American dollars. It might be a lot to a local, but it is very affordable. The one problem I have is I hadn’t found a Barclays bank until today, so I had no idea how much money I had left in my bank account! I haven’t been buying anything at all, except food, and the motorbike, but I think for the rest of the time here, I will rent a vesper for about 5 days which is fairly cheap. Although… If I see I am fine on money, I might have to upgrade to the motorbike, the adrenaline rush on one of those is crazy! The fastest I went was 100km, but that was too fast for my first day on a bike.
The one thing I find interesting is how all the locals want to take me around town and have drinks with me or something. Dr. Lanz told me to be very paranoid, so I am! I always think I’ll either get mugged, killed, or stabbed. I think in all honesty they just want to have a drink and speak English to me, but I never take it that way. So far it has been very safe, and my street smarts are paying off, but I am always skeptical, I can’t let my guard down! Alright… I’ll write more in a few days, I’m off to turn black in the hot Africa sun.
Today is one of the most important days for Kenya as a country.
The referandum is today, and the country will be voting either Yes, or No, in regards to the proposed constitution.
I’ll be trying to take as many pictures as possible and show everyone!
I’ve been living at Stephen Digges’ house in Westlands, outside of Nairobi for the past few days. If you don’t know who he is, google him! He makes documentaries and is a distinguished journalist. He has been nice enough to let me live with him for this week.
Before all this… I stayed in Karen, with Dick and Julia Moss. They have ran the Nairobi Orchestra for about 50 years, and I got to play some Beethoven trios with them at their beautiful house. They live on a beautiful 5 acre property and have a small little cottage type house.
Saturday and Sunday took place with Amon! Amon and his family welcomed me to their house, and I stayed there for a few days. We went shopping in East Lane which is this little town that is mostly populated by Somalis. They have cheap dress clothes… I ended up buying 4 shirts, sweater, two pairs of slacks, ties, cuff links, all for about 40 dollars or so.
Yesterday… we went to a place called mathare, which is a slum of Nairobi. To see people living in a slum is rather interesting. These people make do with what they have… or what they don’t have. The little kids thought we were probably celebrities, and were constantly hugging us, and asking us “how are you” “how are you?!” It’s the only English phrase that they know. I made a contact there, and maybe I will even teach a class or two if I can.
Anyways I’ll try to update maybe tonight, with a picture or two from the voting, but hopefully I’ll end up in Mombasa come the weekend.
O! Inception was amazing by the way. I felt like Dave Marcinek watching a movie by myself, but I really enjoyed being by myself watching a movie, and it was a rather nice movie theater! The crazy part was when in the movie, the setting turns into.. MOMBASA! Of course all the Kenyas said something when they said Mombasa, but I thought it was rather ironic that, that is the place I will be traveling too.
For those of you that don’t know the system here, the months of August, April, and December are considered holidays.
I get the same feeling when everyone on campus at school is leaving to go home. All the kids are super excited to go home and the teachers are too. We have a parents day program at the Junior School, and then it’s holiday for me.
My plan is to go to Nairobi for about a week, do some shopping, meet up with some people, and then I’m backpacking the coast of Mombasa. Check it out on google earth, it’s a beautiful place on the Indian Ocean. I really want to try and get to Lamu, which is a beautiful vacation spot. My plan is to take a plane there, and take a bus home.
Today I made my first Kenyan dish, Chapati! It came out ok for the first time, but it’s tough to make good like the locals do.
I probably won’t be updating too much when I am on vacation but I will try my hardest to hit up internet cafe’s.
In the past few days a lot of things have happened, and it seems everyday I learn something new about living here in Kenya. A lot of learning is actually a result in realizing I have been taken advantage of in regards to prices, or just doing things a lot harder than I have to.
For example! I have found that buying vegetables, milk, and things like that are a lot cheaper in the local town where my taxi driver is from.
As far as prices, I am slowly finding cheaper places to buy things.
Tuesday we dropped Zach off at the airport in Nairobi and it went very well. I’m sure Zach got home safely, and it’s more quiet now that he’s not here. For a few minutes driving home, it even felt that I had forgot something when Zach left for the airport. That weird feeling you get when you go on vacation and you think you left something back at the house. After about 10 minutes, I was feeling myself again, and was in the car with Cesar, and Carlos. You’re probably thinking… aren’t you in Africa Andrew? Aren’t these people supposed to have African names? Yes.. I ask myself the same question all the time.
We met a VERY interesting person in Nairobi. His name is Stephen Digges, and is a very well known photographer / videographer. He makes documentaries all over the world, and I think I’ll try to spend some time with him in early August. He has some CRAZY stories, that I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing on my blog, but let’s just say, he has traveled all over the world, documenting, and experiencing stuff that not many people experience.
I have two more days here in Nyeri, and then its vacation time! The home stretch is here.
I had a few lessons on Sunday, followed by orchestra. Orchestra is going pretty well, the kids seem to be improving on Pirates, but they aren’t progressing through it as fast I would like. They can play it from beginning to end, and I think that’s the mentality that they have. They have to understand that playing it from beginning to end is not even close to finishing the piece. Luckily we have our month off coming up, and I’ll have time to grab another piece so that don’t get sick of Pirates.
I had to kick a girl out of the orchestra rehearsal because she threw my rosin across the room. Rosin is rare in schools, even in public schools in New York, but in Kenya, it’s 10x more rare. Already, one of the girls stole my rosin, and now claims someone stole it from her. I wish some of these students would starting acting like 18 year olds and not like 15 year olds. They need to learn how to face the consequences based on what decisions they make.
As far as the girl tossing my rosin across the room with a smile on her face, she just needs to learn to take better care of the instruments and accessories, and especially my personal belongings. She’s a great student, very bright, and hardworking, but she needs to learn to respect our instruments.
In the evening, Zach, Alfred, Amon, and myself went to our favorite place, Banana, and had a going away dinner for Zach. We had our usual roast chicken and chips (french fries), and had a nice dinner. It’s pretty crazy that almost two months have gone by, and that Zach is leaving on Tuesday, but time flies here in Kenya.
With everyday that goes by in Kenya, I feel more and more comfortable. I feel that I am in a cross between college and at home.
When I’m home watching ESPN eating breakfast, I am just waiting for Max to walk through the door, or Eva running up the stairs, or Dave, Bob, Christian, Eric, and all the rest of those hooligans. But then part of me says to myself, to just call Jason to come over, or call my mom or dad, but none of that is possible being halfway around the world.
It doesn’t make me sad, but it makes me realize how much my friends and my family mean to me. I make friends here, and I am close with the students because in all honesty they are probably closer to my age than anyone here.
The good from this is that I feel at home, and I am very comfortable on campus here.
We had pizza at Ms. Waru’s house with her two children Alex and Michael. Zach and I probably ate eight slices of pizza each, and it was so great! At one point I almost thought I was home, and I got a feeling of jumping in my car, and driving back to 20 Shinnecock.
I’m loving DSTV for so many reasons. The main reason, is that it makes me feel a lot more at home. Just keeping the TV on, even if it’s news, the music channel or ESPN, it’s good to just have on in the background.
Finding the Sportscenter times will work pretty well with me, but when there is MLB baseball, those games are on at like 3 am my time!
Cricket. Watching international Cricket is awesome! I only know a few rules, so once I figure out all the rules, I’ll know exactly what’s going on.
We played a football match at Nyeri High today. We ended up winning 3-1, but I had to tone it down during the second half. I had one good assist off a free kick, but the kids were complaining I was playing too rough. They have a point… I’m 23… they’re 16-18.
We went out in town with some locals from Keremaru (not sure if that’s how you spell it). We went out to a few local restaurants and then to our favorite place Banana Leaf! Supposedly, we were sitting next to a Kenyan hip hop artist! Even one of the people we were with had a song of his on his phone.
This Travel Alert is being issued to alert U.S. citizens in Kenya to two independent security concerns. In the wake of the July 11, 2010 terrorist bombings in Kampala, Uganda, there have been increased threats made against public areas in Kenya. In addition, there is concern about the potential for civil disturbances surrounding the August 4 constitutional referendum in Kenya. The U.S. Embassy urges caution when visiting public areas, including restaurants and shopping centers, and asks U.S. citizens to make every effort to avoid public rallies and demonstrations. The U.S. Embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens in Kenya and those considering travel to Kenya to evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime. This Travel Alert is in addition to the March 16, 2010 Travel Warning and does not supersede it. This Travel Alert will expire on October 22, 2010.
Since the July 11 bombings in Uganda, for which the Somalia-based, U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab terrorist group has claimed responsibility, there have been increased threats against public areas across East Africa. U.S. citizens should make every effort to increase personal safety, such as visiting businesses during off-peak hours, avoiding areas with large crowds, and remaining vigilant when visiting restaurants, shopping centers, or other areas frequented by the general public.
While the U.S. Embassy hopes for a peaceful August 4 constitutional referendum with high voter turnout, it recognizes that past elections in Kenya have been marred by violence. The U.S. Embassy has requested that all non-essential official visitors to the mission defer travel to Kenya from July 28 to August 11, 2010. During this timeframe, U.S. citizens in Kenya should take increased security measures, avoid public events related to the referendum, and be particularly cautious of events held immediately following the announcement of the election result. Demonstrations are unpredictable, can become violent, and should be avoided if at all possible. U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy Nairobi’s website and the U.S. Department of State’s, Bureau of Consular Affairs website where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review “A Safe Trip Abroad,” which includes valuable security information for those living and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or, outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
For after-hours emergencies in Kenya, please call +254-(0)20-363-6170 U.S. Embassy Nairobi UN Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya Consular Section American Citizen Services Unit U.S. Embassy Nairobi Email:email@example.com Emergency Telephone Number: +254-(0)20-363-6622
Zach and I made some big moves today. I bought a TV in town, and a DSTV. DSTV is basically the cable provider here so I could watch some TV. It’s a good form of entertainment, but the one thing that was a little disappointing, was ESPN! ESPN was the one channel I was looking forward to, and their programming is different than US =( I turned on the TV, and was watching Wednesday Night Baseball… on Thursday night! It was great watching the game, but their ESPN has stuff like, X Games Classics, Formula One Racing, Cricket (which is amazing), and the two programs that I can look forward to, Sportscenter, and Baseball Tonight, which are on at good times. I just have to check if they are up to date. If those programs are a day behind I might end up canceling my DSTV, and have wasted some money, or keep it for the other channels that I have. I’ll give it a month and see. Luckily, I can always sell of the DSTV and the TV.
Other than that, I have been practicing a lot of piano! I still keep up with cello, and I am in the process of learning the first Bach Invention.
Dinner was one of the best dinners Zach and I have had in Kenya. He made chapati and I cooked some ground beef, with cilantro, onions, and a bunch of other spices.
We made mini burritos and enjoyed every bit of it.
All in all today was a great day, I just hope the ESPN thing works out for me!
One thing I wanted to talk about was my general rapport with the students. I think it’s so great how much I get to see the students and interact with them. It’s such a huge change from seeing my students once a week, to now everyday. It’s fun to talk to them, tell them differences between when I went to high school and their school, and things of that nature. Also playing soccer with them is a blast, I wish I had time to help them practice, or even coach them, but my schedule doesn’t really allow for that.
Sorry for the lack of updating my blog, but you have understand, things just randomly come up in Africa.
I think I’ll stop making my titles with Kenya in it.
Our Maasai Mara trip was absolutely amazing. Driving through the southern rift valley was beautiful and the landscape was unreal. Seeing the mountains and the landscape was gorgeous.
We stayed in the Maasai Mara, and it was so cool to actually sleep in the wild. We met people from all over the world at the Mara, we spoke to tourists, NYC teachers, professors from West Virginia, and people our age from Portugal, Sweden, Spain, and all over Europe.
The animals were awesome to watch as well, watching lions eating a Wildebeest was one of the coolest things I have ever seen and seeing the migration was breathtaking. We didn’t see the Wildebeests crossing the river but we saw hordes of them all over the Mara.
In the Maasai Mara, one can go to the divide which is Tanzania and Kenya, and we made sure we took a few pictures of that.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll start writing a little more, but if you want to see the pictures of the Mara, facebook friend me! I don’t want to upload 40 photos on the tumblr so I’ll add a few.
I played in another soccer match, and we ended up winning 2-0. The other team was extremely angry how our referee was calling the game, and upset that it was so physical, but it was because their captain had such a poor attitude for the game.
Our weekend started out in Hell’s Gate National Park and it was such a great trip. We got to the park and started our bike tour since the park lets people rent bikes and you ride around the park looking at all the different animals. My bikes’ tire popped about 10 minutes into the trip, so Zach and I ditched the bikes on the side of the road, and started walking. We walked towards the gorge which is about a 5 mile walk of gorgeous landscape and animals everywhere!
The fun part was when I put up my thumb and a university bus picked Zach and I up. Just picture two Americans jumping on a bus full of native college students and asking them for a lift to the gorge. Of course they let us on, but we were bombarded by TONS of questions, pictures and everything else.
We got to the gorge and took an adventurous one hour tour through the gorge. It was absolutely beautiful and I promise pictures will come tonight.
We got to the Masai Tribe and they were selling very cool jewelery, and I asked the Masai women to braid my hair! They were laughing the whole time, because American’s hair is just way too soft, and they had a hard time putting it into braids. None of these people could speak English, and obviously I can’t speak Swahili. I spoke to another woman nearby watching and she had told me if it was a little longer and they had more time they could do it, so maybe I’ll wait till after August.
Saturday night we got to Naivasha, and boy that town was scary. At night time it looked like Escape From L.A. People getting beat with their own belts, people screaming, crowds of people staring us, and it just looked like a scene out of a movie.
We woke up Sunday, and ended up buying Sheepskin from this local guy on the side of the road! We bought Sheepskin hats (pictures will come), and I bought a Sheepskin rug! In total it cost about 20 US Dollars, which all of the locals told me we overpaid a lot!
My busiest day, but I got through it! Teaching went fine, and I met a student from Westminster that used to be here on the exchange program, and he travels alll over Africa. He has a school in Rwanda, Uganda, and I think he plays big roles in local schools around here. He’s a great contact to know and a great person, so Zach and I spent our night hanging with Andrew. Maybe one of these days I’ll get to go on a few trips with him, maybe play some music for his schools or just visit them to see what the other countries are like.
This was the letter, since it’s very hard to read.
I recently read in the Massapequan Observer that you were selected as the string director at the Mount Kenya Academy in Africa and I would like to add my congratulations to the many you have already received.
To be chosen for this job opportunity is certainly an honor. It appears that you have put forth extreme effort in order to reach this goal and I commend you for your commitment to music
Again, congratulations and best wishes for continued success in your future endeavor. If I can ever be assistance to you or your family, please feel free to contact me.