You may be wondering, “1) Who is Arsalan, 2) Where is he going, and 3) Why is his name on a cake?” Well, 1) Arsalan is one of the many great friends we have made here during our internship in Kenya as QES scholars. 2) He left in November because his contract was completed at the Aga Khan University hospital. 3) He is such a great guy, we had to throw him a goodbye party with a cake made in his honour!
With all that sorted out, I hope it is evident to you that my highlight of my internship was the friendships I made while in Kenya. Spending three months with interns and friends from Kenya and around the world was a privilege as well as a joy. Together, we went on a safari, had games nights and potlucks, joined dance lessons, and tried fun new restaurants. I will always remember my time in Kenya for the work I completed; however, and maybe more fondly, I will remember my time for the people I worked beside.
This internship has been an amazing time of learning lots, making new friends, and exploring different parts of the world. Along the way, I have met many intelligent and inspiring people committed to seeing and creating positive change in their city. About a month ago, I attended an exhibition put on by Hope Raisers Youth Group, called Through the Eyes of a Woman. Through an organization called Dadas Connect (dada is swahili for sister), women used art as a tool to inspire thought and dialogue around the role of women in the future of cities. Thankfully, the gallery and the “My Dream City” project have now been published online so I you too can join in examining gender issues in the context of urbanization. I encourage you to take a look around their site!
I still have two weeks left in East Africa before heading home to the Fraser Valley, but I look forward to sharing more of my stories and research in future posts and once I return back to UFV!
This internship was plump with innumerable experiences, shifts in static perspectives and space for personal development. As I process and reflect on my time in Nairobi , I am amazed at how comfortable and at home I feel in Kenya. At the beginning of my internship, I was extra cautious about contamination, sanitation and navigation. I saw crowded matatus and could not imagine ever riding in such a precarious looking vehicle.
It wasn’t exactly that I was scared of Nairobi, but more that I was uneasy about its seeming unpredictability. Yet, I can see how Nairobi has softened my need for control and has invited me to embrace what I initially considered chaos. There is no chaos, there are simply different orders, patterns and urban rhythms that I did not understand. As I entered into the invitation of experiencing spaces for what they were, no longer projecting my expectation onto them, I fell in love with Nairobi. The energy of the people, the vibrancy of matatus and the eccentricity of street vendors drew me into an appreciation for Nairobi’s different social arrangement than what I am accustomed to at home. Nairobi has welcomed me and has taught me to loosen my reigns of prescription.