"I guess this will be my last entry --- a bit of a summary and reflection of my experiences.
There are of course a lot of little things that I will remember: bargaining at the markets, driving down with an armed convoy from Loki, seeing huge African landscapes and local in traditional life, walking around alone in Nairobi, eating at the colonial style cafe, hanging out at the 'bar' in Kakuma, meeting with the Somali Bantu elders, women singing and chanting as we left, feeding giraffes, and much more
In terms of having taken a trip to Africa, I was most excited to discover that many things fit my expectations. I came knowing more than the average person about life in Africa---that is to say, more than the standard stereotypes or assumptions. I would have been terribly disappointed to find myself totally in the realm of the unexpected. From acacia trees on open grassland to erratic drivers and non-functioning street lights to refugees living in slums and carrying cell phones --- the mix of old and new, efficient and non-efficient --- it was all what I wanted Africa to be.
I am also happy just to be able to say I've actually been to Africa. It kind of validates the study/work I have done. Moreover, I'm glad my first trip, though short, had a real purpose. To know I had a mission and got to see/do things most people don't is cool.
In terms of my work with refugees, the trip has of course given me a lot of knowledge about their lives and experiences prior to coming to the US. More importantly, though, I've gotten to see the daily life of many refugees. The most obvious and striking example is of course having visited Kakuma. I don't think I'll ever understand what it must be like to live in such a dry and dusty place day after day----to feel so limited in terms of safety, health, food , and future life. It was also very surprised by the total desolation of Eastleigh [where many refugees in Nairobi live]. The dirt, trash, and run down nature of the the place made it obvious to me that the city didn't care about the people there. It must be hard to have a constant visual reminder of that.
In all, my time in Kenya was definitely a wonderful opportunity. I hope also that I'll be able to look back on it as a first step of many trips to the continent..."
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