Saturday, November 13, 2010

Everybody's Got a Hungry Heart

Of course I'm referencing Bruce, when do I not? Though U2 is my favorite, I grew up with Bruce. He was my first inspiration and I find myself playing with his style in terms of music (started by inverting the rhythm and chords of "Atlantic City"). He's what I revert to when I need to feel adventurous, like I did riding in my dad's car at seven years old, going fast, listening to "Thunder Road." I also relate to him quite a bit, particularly with this particular line, "Everybody's got a hungry heart." Because you know something? I have one. Like my stomach, my heart likes being full. The problem? Mine feels like it's never full enough.

I never am satisfied. Not with easy answers, not with a stable, comfortable, never-changing life, not with papal documents, and not with myself. I always feel I'm pursuing something. I just can't put my finger on what it is. Once I go after one adventure, I'm already after another one. You tell me to run a mile, I'll run ten. "You give it all and I want more."

Kenya is making me realize this in some big ways. I am busy during the week. Busy as in, a four hour commute each day (two each way) to either USIU on Thika Road or to Alta'awon in Korogocho). Most of my week is tied up with commuting, class, homework, internship work (which is fun, but I can't be as involved as I want to be) and then the weekends, I've been trying to go out and do things, then catch up on sleep and school work. Right now, I have a grant proposal draft due Wednesday, a project due in less than a month, a short paper and a quiz coming up, two term papers, the final grant proposal, then all of my finals. And then, I'm trying to plan some final trips (like one more to the Maasai Mara, since a friend of mine hasn't been yet and also to see some friends I made while up there). Then, we have a final trip to Mombasa and we're gone!!!

I feel like my time in Kenya is too brief and I've rarely had a break to consider what all of it means. Working with the kids and youth of Korogocho is rewarding but, at the same time, I'm sad that I can't get to know them better or get more involved with the really cool youth groups in the area (by the way, check out Blue Cross and Miss Koch on Facebook). I wish I could consider going to Uganda, like a bunch of my classmates did this weekend. I wish I could hang out with my Kenyan friends more but we're all so busy. I wish I wasn't limited by time.

I need to remember that I have had some truly amazing experiences. I've done things I didn't expect to do before 30, much less before graduating from college. I've hung out at the UN complex, smoking a cigarette with a dear friend of mine. I've spoken with UN evaluators on various projects. I visited a school run by a Maasai Catholic priest for nomadic children and learned a bit about the Maasai culture. I went to a Hindu celebration. I lived in rural Kenya for a week, met a Gospel singer who lives in Nairobi, talked with an American missionary, and peed in the bushes. I spent the night in Huruma, another slum, with a friend and her family. I went to a site where the most ancient human fossils were found. I went to a music lounge to celebrate Heroes' Day and learned to dance like a Kenyan (albeit, I still can't). I met people from the German Foundation for World Population. I rode motorcycles to school, got hit by moving vehicles, met religious leaders, learned about Kenyan primary education, and played my guitar in random events. I questioned my faith and politics more than I thought I would and I made amazing friends.

Still, I want to do more, see more, and act more. I want to come back. I want to do more work with children and youth. I want to do more with music, not only as a musician but as someone fascinated from a cultural, economic, and social perspective. I want to do more with Africa, to learn more about the history and diverse cultures and nations that reside on this continent. I want to do more with economics and business, to figure out how to work with the market forces and give people access, so that they can improve their livelihoods. I want to learn how I can contribute to the world.

Kenya didn't quench my thirst. It put salt on my lips. I want more.

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