Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The real deal

Hello to all! I took my first real LPI today... we won't get the scores until tomorrow or possibly the day after or possibly (knowing PC) the day after that. Hopefully I passed, but I know I used more ASL than I should have. yikes!
Beyond that, all is still going well here! This week is Thanksgiving but before that we have several other tests on basic life skills like lighting lanterns and jikos and washing clothes and such, should be easy... but I don't want to jinx myself! Once I come back from Loitokitok after Thanksgiving we'll have only 2 weeks left before we go to Nairobi to swear in!!!!!! I think everyone here is counting down the days just to be alone in our own place if only to eat whatever we want, whenever we want.
Sorry, I pre-wrote a blog in a notebook that I forgot to  bring with me, but the topic was weird stuff that happens in Kenya so through the course of sitting at this internet cafe hopefully I can remember most of it. Here's the list, it will be added to over the next 2 years i'm sure!

Kenyans will drive on through or over almost anything
We bring toilet paper with us everywhere, no matter what. It's the first thing I pack in the morning
When flip flops break they're like blown out tires, just left, broken, on the side of the road.

Sorry, I could only remember those 3. I'll try to bring the whole list next time! Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A light at the end of the tunnel

So, it's Friday here... lunch time. It's the end of week 5 for us in training and I just took my practice language proficiency interview... they haven't told me yet how I did, but I take the real one on Tuesday. If I pass i'll move into a Kiswahili class next week, so cross your fingers!
Next week is Thanksgiving, which is hard to believe because it's so hot here, you'd never guess it's November. Anyway, a few of us from Deaf Ed are headed to Loitokitok to join the rest of our training group for the holiday. We're celebrating on Friday, so we'll spend the night there (we're camping!) and then head back on Saturday. After that, we only have about 2 weeks of training left!!!! We're all ready to swear in and get to our sites and start the real work.
So, things are still going well here, not too much to report. I GOT A BOX YESTERDAY!!! THANKS MOM!!!! I seriously almost peed myself when I saw the Old Bay! We had another mail call today and I got quite a bit which was really really exciting so keep it coming!!! It's what we all look forward to. I guess this entry isn't too terribly exciting but just wanted to update and let everyone know i'm alive and doing well!
Love to all!! Thanks for reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Day in the life

I'm writing this blog in advance in hopes that it will be more informative and less scatter brained. Sorry in advance for any repeated information; i'm also keeping a personal journal and forget sometimes what i've put in it vs. my blog. Since I think this is going to be really long i'm going to divide it into categories that way you can pick and choose the stuff you're most interested in. Enjoy!
Daily Routine
I normally get up at 6 and pick out my clothes for the day. Usually by the time I get to the kitchen my sister has already heated the water for my bath so I retrieve a bucket and pour it in. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to take a bucket bath. If you're interested here's my process: Dunk whole head in, shampoo and condition hair, wash face, rinse hair, wash body and then lastly I wash my feet because they are always the dirtiest. I proceed getting ready as I would in America.
Before I leave for the day we have tea and Breakfast which so far has ranged from butter and jelly sandwiches to butter sandwiches to just plain bread and at the moment we are having honey sandwiches.
We have language all morning and then walk to town for lunch followed by a few hours of technical training. When I get home at night I try my best to help with dinner which is usually served around 8. By the end of dinner i'm struggling to stay awake so I normally turn in for the night around 9.
Home Stay
I live with an older couple whom I call Shu Shu and Omau which means Grandma and Grandpa here and their granddaughter who I refer to as my sister. There is a definite language and cultural barrier that's a constant struggle but day by day we make it work. We have electricity but not indoor plumbing. The bathroom here is outside, it's called a Choo, there are several different types but basically its a hole in the ground or a toilet-like situation that leads to, you guessed it, a hole in the ground. :-)
My room is a nice size. I have a bedside table and then another table to keep my clothing on. My bed is twin size with a very fancy mosquito net. At first I loved the net, I felt like a princess... now it's just turned out to be a gigantic pain in the butt more times than not.
A special thanks to KatieBug and LizBit for the artwork they sent me with, it makes my room beautiful!!!
The Deaf Side
It's probably just the area i'm in but deafness just seems more prevalent here. Pretty much all the Deaf kids here go to Deaf schools and this year they're pushing to do the national testing in KSL for the first time which is awesome, I look forward to seeing it happen. The structure of KSL is very similar to ASL bu the signs are very different so that makes it somewhat challenging.
Interpreting is kind of in the baby stages as a profession so there are lots of little things that need to be tweaked so they have a more cohesive idea of qualifications and expectations for the profession. For now I just sit back and observe the differences.
Obviously  I can't speak to what goes on in hearing schools but the Deaf schools i've been in in Kenya are so different from America. Roughly the schedule is as follows: 8-11 Classes 11-11:30 tea break, 11:30- 12:30 classes 12:30-2 lunch and then 2-3 classes.
When a teacher walks in the room all the students stand which blew my mind the first few times. In general, the kids here are super respectful especially towards Teachers.
While in Kilifi we stayed on the school compound and when the kids saw us coming, they come running so they could carry our bags for us to the teacher's room... adorable.
The money here is Kenyan Shillings /= The exchange rate is about 78/= to 1 USD. I've stopped converting in my head since I get paid in /= that's how my brain works now. To give you and idea, here is a price list:
Blow pop 10/=
Mini jar of PB 108/=
Chipati  60/=
a letter to the U.S. 98 /=
Adopting a Kenyan accent
It's the only way they can understand what i'm saying. I sound ridiculous.
The other trainees
Even though our group is small i'm lucky to have ended up with some pretty cool people. Since digestion is a full time job here our #1 topic of conversation is pooping. Not sure I could tell you what everyone's major in college was but I can probably tell you the consistency and frequency of their bowel movements fairly accurately. We'll be with the other 26 of our group next week for 2 days and we're all really looking forward to that. in the meantime, i've made some wonderful friends here.
Food and water
Maybe this is something people are interested in... i'm not sure. Most of our food comes from the market, the local farmers grow it and sell it, fruits and veggies that is. Everything else can be found in the supermarket. Most things are made so they don't need to be refrigerated such as butter and jelly. The main snack foods are chips and "cookies" which includes actual cookies, tea biscuits, digestive biscuits, etc.
I drink more tea than the Queen of England.
I purify my own water seperate from my family. Basically I put water in a bucket, pour in the magic powder and stir it till all the gunk settles on the bottome, then I filter it into a larger can with a lid and it's just that simple. It tastes disgusting but beggars can't be choosers so I hold my nose. :-)
Things i'm glad I brought
Laundry line
Intuition razors
Soccer world cup blanket Christie gave me when she was still in Germany
Pictures of all you beautiful people
Comforts of home
Things I miss:
Mom- that's a given. I was spoiled rotten.
Friends- obviously
walking into the kitchen and eating whatever I want whenever I want it
making dinner in less than 2 hours
It's amazing how much this place feels like home after being gone for a week. For the most part I feel safe here. I try to be friendly to the people that live between my house and town so they look out for me, yes it really works that way. I think the locals have warmed up to the daily invasion of white people so I think we all feel welcome at this point.
Hight five if you read all of that!! Overall, it's going well, i'm happy and healthy. Thanks to everyone who has been commenting on my blogs, it always makes my day to know people are reading!!!!
Thanks to Mom, Aunt Janice, Kels and the Grandparents for the mail i've received so far! It's a big thrill here for sure!
Love to all from Kenya!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Found an internet cafe

Hello All!!!

I found an internet cafe and I thought what better to do than update my blog.

So I just returned from shadowing last week. It was an excellent experience, I stayed on the coast in Kilifi and got to see several different classes taught by several different teachers. We also had some excellent food and learned how to cook American in Kenya!! Yayy!! Big thrill of the week was having dinner on the Indian Ocean. What a view!!! As soon as I get to my site and figure out the internet situation I promise you will see loads of pictures from training these past few weeks.

Since I haven't talked about my site yet, i'll do that. It's a Unit within a hearing school with about 25ish Deaf kids. It's located in a small town called Sega that's located near Busia right next to Lake Victoria. I'll have a house with "running water and electricity" and it's on a Catholic school compound, and i'm pretty sure i'll have quite a bit of stuff within walking distance.

Not too much else going on, just excited to finish training and get to my site! Thanks to everyone who has sent/ been sending mail. I didn't get any the first time around but some was delivered while we were away so hopefully there'll be something tomorrow... that's a big thrill here. Hope all is going well in America and I hope everyone had a great Halloween!

Happy belated Birthday Ashley!

Love to all