Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yes, I'm still alive

# of language tests passed: 1
# of kids taught in 1 school: 180
# of marriage proposals: 2
# of giant spiders killed: 4
# of spider bites: 3
# of hours spent in church service: 5.5

So it's been so long since my last post! Time has been flying by and the last half of training was so hectic that I barely had time to respond to emails or do anything besides studying kiswahili. So the good news is the I passed my language test! I made it to intermediate low, which is the level required to remain in service and swear in as a PCV. Swear in was a lovely ceremony and it had great food at the Ambassador's house in Nairobi. After swear in we were off to our sites and that pretty much brings you up to today.

I've been at site a full month now. I really love it here! There are challenges and frustrations of course, but overall I feel so lucky to be here. I don't have electricity yet, but it is coming soon. I think within the next month I'll have it and running water possibly in the next 6 months. I am very excited about the possibility of having a fan! It is HOT and HUMID here.

My job is going well, I'm working in a dispensary (clinic) and doing health education activities. I started teaching health education & lifeskills in 2 schools this week. 180 kids in 1 school and 86 in another!! It's been keeping me pretty busy and I feel pretty fulfilled in my job most days.

I've gotten 2 marriage proposals so far- 1 from a matatu (bus) driver and 1 from a guy standing outside a shop. It's quality not quantity, right? I'm holding out for at least a mechanic though. I mean c'mon... I can do way better than a loiterer.

Spider bites vs. spiders killed: BOOYAH! Who's winning now!?! Oh and the spiders here are pretty fierce. I got a bite on my leg the night before swear in and it swelled up and it is STILL swollen a month later! (Family- rest assured that medical has taken a look at it and I will be fine. My body's just not used to the creatures here.)

And finally, I spent 5.5 hours in a Pentecostal church service on Sunday. No, that wasn't a typo. It was like Hotel California... you can check in but you can never leave. A friend in my village sings in the choir and invited me to attend, and since I'm trying to integrate into my village and get to know people I thought it would be a good idea to go with her. I think I went through all 5 stages of grief during the service:

Denial- "I'm ok, it's hour 2 and I'm sure it's just about wrapping up. This is just slightly longer than church service back home."
Anger- "WTF!? It's been 3.5 hours and this service is still going on! Why is half the congregation sleeping!?"
Bargaining- "Hour 4.5...Maybe if I just give a little more in the collection plate they will just end the service"
Depression- "Hour 5...I'm never getting out of here. What's the point of even trying?"
Acceptance- "Hour 5.5 It's going to be ok. This is how faith is celebrated in this church and it's a strong part of life here in Kenya. Maybe this won't be a weekly thing for me, but at least I'm meeting people. And never again will I balk at a 2 hour church service when I get back to the States!"

Anyways, that's it for now. I'll try not to wait 3 months before my next update!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fun with Language!

Number of shots so far: 8
Number of times I've been sick: 1
Number of times I've seen a Nairobi fly (aka Blister beetle) in my home: 1
Number of chickens killed: 2
Number of times I've watched WWF Raw: 3

"You are never as far away from home as when you are sick." ~The Ponds of Kalambayi

The other weekend I got sick for the first time in Kenya; despite the 8 shots I've been given so far. It wasn't a oh-my-god-I-have-MALARIA-sick, but still it wasn't pleasant. I spent most of the day in my room resting and skipped dinner that night. It seemed to do the trick because the next afternoon I was back to normal.

I don't like bugs, especially those that sting, bite or cause heinous blisters on skin. So far I've only encountered small spiders and roaches but last week I had my first encounter with the Nairobi fly... aka blister beetle. A big thank you to medical for the presentation on all things that bite and sting here in Kenya, otherwise I would've had no idea that the bug crawling on my table was a nasty bug that I needed to stay far away from! The Nairobi fly causes awful blistering on the skin when they are touched/brushed off. It quite painful from what I hear.

Last weekend I made chicken and rice soup again. It was yummy.

No comment about the WWF Raw except to say that I found out it is also shown on Sunday afternoons. Awesome. I've also gotten into a Phillipino soap opera called Imposter. It is quite ridiculous and entertaining. The plot would put American soap operas to shame.

I am having a fun time with Kiswahili, as this blog title implies. I have learned that mdudu is the word for insect (sounds like doo doo). That word caused about 15 minutes of poop jokes and much laughter from my language group and teacher. I've also had a few mishaps with language... i.e. the word for house and to fart are very similar. A week ago I accidentally asked my host mom 'how is your fart?' instead of the common greeting 'how is your home?'. Loooovely. This week I have a practice language test and the final one is in a few weeks. I'm a little nervous about it, but it's just a conversation not a written test so hopefully it won't be too difficult.

I'm really excited because next week all of the trainees (including me) are going to an HIV workshop, so we get to leave our little training town for 4 days! I forget where we're going, but it's only about an hour or two away. Then when I get back, the following day I get to go to the Coast! I'm visiting a current volunteer who lives not too far from me near Malindi. I'm so excited!! I'll be on the Coast for about a week I think. I'll also get to visit Mombasa and I'm stoked!!!

Anyways, that's all for now. I'm happy, healthy and really loving Kenya. Hope you all are doing well :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Karibu Kenya!

# of times per day I take a tea break: 2
# of shots I've gotten so far: 4
# of people who fit into a Toyota on my way to my host family's house: 15 plus about 250lbs of luggage on top
# of chickens in my host mother has: 17
# of times I've watched WWF Raw with John Cena while in Kenya: 1

Karibu Kenya! I've been here for about a week and a half. I'm living with a host family consisting of a mother, father, 2 sisters, 2 brothers and 2 cousins. Everyday I have training from about 8am-5pm; with 2-4 hours of swahili lessons and other technical sessions related to our job. I have a curfew of 6:30pm, so after class there really isn't much to do and town is a bit of a walk so I usually just go home and study after class.

I went to live with my host family on Sunday June 12th and was transported in a Toyota carrying 15 passengers. No joke. This was a Toyota with a front seat, middle seat and back bench. It was quite the sight to have that many people squeezed into a small SUV. I need to get used to that transportation style as I started to get a leg cramp from being contorted and thankfully I reached my host family before it got too bad.

I read a quote the other day in my cultural workbook "A thing is mysterious merely because it is unknown." I can now say that a choo is no longer mysterious to me. If you don't know what a choo is, I suggest that you google it and become enlightened on something that I will be using for the next two years! Hint: it's a bathroom "facility".

I've gotten about 4 shots so far and will continue to get shots for the next couple of weeks. I've made out pretty well in this area as I've already had all of my Hep A and B series a few years ago.

I can thank the Brits for my twice daily tea breaks, and I come to expect them daily. Kenyans drink chai multiple times per day and I have grown to love it. I liked chai in the States, but the Kenyan chai is a little different (mostly hot milk with a side of chai flavor).

My host mother has chickens and I got the privilege of killing one and making a delicious chicken and rice soup for my host family on Saturday. It went well except they have really dull knives here so I felt that was a little cruel. I learned how to butcher it from my host mother so that I can do it by myself when I get to site. It wasn't too hard, I just need to use a sharp knife!

Finally, yes, I watched WWF Raw in Kenya. I think it's hilarious the tv shows that make it abroad. I normally would never watch wrestling, but I soak up anything American at this point.

Contact info here:
My Name, PCT
c/o Peace Corps
Po Box 698-00621
Nairobi, Kenya

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO MAIL ME AMERICAN FOOD: particularly kraft velveeta mac & cheese... they don't have cheese here :( also candy, laughing cow cheese or the garlic herb triangle wedges- they don't have to be refridgerated, crystal light mixes, pens etc. It's all awesome. My first 3 months in country I can get packages duty free (i.e. I don't have to pay to receive them!) so that is the best time for me to get stuff cheaply.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CALL ME: to dial my phone from the US dial "+ 254 704 596 566" just please remember that Kenya is 7 hours ahead (so basically the best time to reach me is between 10am-2:30pm EST in the States). Text messages are also pretty cheap, I think like 10 cents per msg to me if you have AT&T- but double check with your carrier. Incoming calls are free for me to receive, so call away :)

Hope you are all doing well :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Today is the big day! Going to Philly!!

Number of cell phone minutes used in the past week- 620

Number of hours slept last night- 3.5

Pounds of checked baggage- 76

Number of times I've said It's always sunny in philadelphia recently- 8

Well, I'm getting ready to leave for my flight to Philly. Gotta go...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Goodbye Video

This is a goodbye video from my coworkers! They are the best and I will miss them so much!! I had my last official day of work today and I'm packing up & leaving for Florida early tomorrow morning. Only 4 days left- hard to believe how fast time has flown by!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Flight information!

Got my flight & staging information this week! I'm getting so excited! I still have a ton to do: packing, selling my car, wrapping up work etc. I gave my formal resignation letter today. It was bitter sweet. Like dark chocolate. I am really going to miss my colleagues and the friends I've made at work.

Here's my travel info:
Tampa to Philadelphia- June 6th

Attend Staging (a brief orientation)- June 6th-7th
6/6 2pm-7pm sessions
6/7 7am-10am health clinic (aka shots!)

Take a bus to New York JFK airport- June 7th 10am

Flight leaves JFK and looks like it goes straight to Brussels. Then a stop in Burundi before landing in Kenya late Wednesday night June 8th.

It's basically going to be a 2 hour bus ride, followed by about 19 hours of flying. I'm going to probably arrive exhausted from all the traveling and with a case of eye strain from seeing all the movies I've missed in the past year. But I can't wait to meet everyone at staging. And I can't wait to begin this next adventure.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


So it appears that I've been neglecting my blog as of late. Hard to believe in only 44 days I will be leaving for staging and then off to Kenya. I am experiencing a whole range of emotions right now, mostly excited, but every now and then I get a little freaked out about how little time I have left before I leave. I just started packing and let me tell you that this task will not be easy. I am limited to only 80lbs and looking at my packing list I don't know how I will make it.

Here's what I look like right now:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snapshots of Service

I am really excited about this:

A journal project among 50 Peace Corps Volunteers in 50 countries of service all heading out during the 50th Anniversary year of the Peace Corps! I mean c'mon how cool is that!?!?
More people are still needed to sign up!!! Go to the website above for more information :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Things I'll Miss... part 1

Aside from family and friends or intangible things like my privacy and individualism, here's a list of the things I think I'll miss most about the US (part 1):


2)My Cat

3) Trader Joe's. Simply the best store ever.

4)NPR. Sigh. I'm downloading as many of their podcasts as I can before I leave.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


It's been a while since I've updated this blog and I finally have some exciting news! About two weeks ago I was finally medically cleared for service!!! That same afternoon I got a call from my placement officer and had my final interview. I was still reeling from the news of my medical clearance, but apparently I said something right since she said she was going to be sending me an invite for a non-Spanish speaking health program in Central/South America for May.
The next day I get an email from my placement officer saying that there is a problem with my invitation- it was for a health extension program not a health degreed program. She gave me the option of the C/SA program or a health degreed program in Africa leaving in May. I struggled with the options over the Christmas weekend and finally decided on the health degreed program in Africa. So......I got the invitation packet last Wednesday and formally accepted yesterday.

I'm going to Kenya! I leave on May 30, 2011 and will be an HIV/AIDS & Hygiene Educator.