Sometimes I’m just so busy to update!!
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.
Second half of Kenya…here we go.
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 =!
The city that never sleeps.
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!
29 days till I’m home…. but who’s counting!
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.
Day 92 - 99. Alejandro.. for string orchestra
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.
Day 90 - 91.
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.
Day 80 - 89. What’s next?
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?
Day 63 - 80.
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.
Back from the most exciting vacation of my life.
There are a lot more pictures on my facebook! It just takes too long to upload them all both here and facebook, so if you want more… friend me on facebook.
Written update coming tomorrow!
How ya been?!
My summer camp job gets in the way of ever being able to talk to you! :(
I’ve been doing great! Zanzibar is a beautiful place! If you haven’t heard of it, check it out on google earth or something, it’s beautiful, and the sunsets are breath-taking.
howz life at Zanzibar like Bro?
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?