Funny, I never mentioned the class that spurred me to go. Truly, I have wanted to go to Kenya since I was little and had been seriously considering it since last summer (first vocalizing it in a conversation with a dear family friend). Yet, a couple things were standing in my way. Money was one (and my resulting desire to graduate a semester early). The second was my belief that, because I had taken Spanish, I should go somewhere in Latin America or Europe. I kept these things in mind until I took International Environmental Politics.
I credit this as the class that changed my life. All of my beliefs and passions in food security, human rights, female/indigenous rights, corporate responsibility, good governance, fiscal and consumer responsibility, fertility awareness and consistent pro-life ethics seemed to be rooted in care and concern for the planet. In addition to indicting me on my unsustainable habits, this class also provided a semester long country case study. Before I knew it, I signed up for Kenya.
The two girls I studied with are amazing, compassionate, intelligent women committed to making a difference. As it turned out, one of them mentioned that she would be studying in Nairobi this fall. I finally realized that I needed to go. I said that I had a year left and I really wanted to make the most of it. She said to me, "Girl, if it's what you want, do it!" I had no idea how I would make this work but, from that point on, I was committed.
As we learned of Kenya's environmental issues, many symptomatic of an unscrupulous government and desperate poverty, leaving people with little options, I felt the need to get my hands dirty. What does lack of sanitation look like? What is it like to have to either purify my own water (carelessness being fatal) or having to buy bottled (knowing some issues with privatized water, in addition to possibly not having the option to recycle)? What does the wilderness in Kenya look like and how is it being impacted? How are the lifestyles of Americans affecting the lifestyles of Kenyans, for good or for ill? Finally, knowing that Kenya is a strategic security point and anti-terrorist ally, how does our foreign policy contribute to either problems or solutions to Kenya's development?
How can we all, rich and poor, black and white, Global North and Global South, come together to truly make this world a better place? How can we learn to put agendas aside and learn to help each other, to help this planet? This is what I'm hoping to learn this fall.