"It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. My journey from rural America to rural Kenya was far more than 1000 miles—it was the journey of a lifetime and it began with a dream.
I’ve always been interested in other cultures and began dreaming of traveling outside of the United States as a junior high student. In my final year of college, while browsing online for an NGO to work with, AHADI NGO based in Kericho, Kenya, caught my eye. The organization’s director was quick to respond and helpful. I was sold. Although I knew very little before coming, I decided to take a leap of faith and set off for Kenya.
I arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to the sound of announcements over the speakers in English and Kiswahili. Outside, I was met by the city’s busy streets, before travelling through the picturesque Rift Valley to Kimori village in Bomet County, where I spent the bulk of my time.
Those 7 months changed me. I saw many new things, met new people and learned about a new culture. I also learned lessons for life, saw the side-effects of poverty first-hand, and learned about myself.
From the moment my hosts met me at the airport, I felt welcomed. Throughout the next 7 months we learned from one another. They taught me to eat ugali (a stiff food made by boiling maize flour in water) with my hands, to milk a cow and to speak some of their local language as well as Swahili. I shared my culture and skills with them.
I volunteered as a teacher at Kimori Academy, teaching lessons in mathematics, English, and P.E. The pupils were fun and respectful. My colleagues were extremely welcoming and helpful.
I could not have asked for a better experience. There were challenges to be sure, but they were growing experiences and have broadened my perspective. With deep appreciation, I thank the members of AHADI, my host family who welcomed me with open arms, the teachers and pupils at Kimori Academy, the local community, and all those who supported me and made it possible for me to work as a volunteer in Kenya."