Three months in
POSTED 2 JANUARY 2014
Having been in Kenya for three months now, I'm officially one third of the way through my Boren Fellowship. It's been an exciting time for me as I learn Swahili and adjust to life in Nairobi. I've just returned to the city after a two week vacation to be home for the holidays. It was wonderful to see family and friends, if only for a short time. On my way back I routed myself through Chicago for my friend Sneha's wedding (enjoy your honeymoon!) which was beautiful. So I'm now ready to get started with the next stage of my journey here.
For the first three months I focused on learning Swahili. I now have a baseline understanding of the language that I plan to build on through daily informal usage and conversations with my friend Paul, who recently returned to Nairobi from Kampala. My goal is to be conversational by the time I leave in July.
Other than continuing Swahili practice, I have two goals for the next six months: write my thesis and pilot TAHMO. For my thesis research I originally intended to carry out a survey of farmers in Kenya to understand the impact of weather insurance. However, I'm quickly learning the difference between the trip you plan for and the trip that happens. The organization that had agreed to work with me for the survey decided to put the project on hold. Not to worry, as I've come up with a plan B (which is a separate blog post). Sometimes in life things happen that you have no control over. Your only real control is how you choose to react to what life puts in front of you.
On the TAHMO front, things are moving ahead quickly. Before I left for the holidays I met with the Kenya Meteorological Department and gave a presentation to their senior staff. I talked about TAHMO's vision and the partnership we envision creating. I'm now in the process of negotiating the next steps for this project. TAHMO is particularly exciting for me as it blends engineering and public policy in a way that is perfectly suited to my knowledge and skills. If things go well, there may be an opportunity for me to continue working in East Africa beyond my time as a Boren Fellow.
The last piece of news I would like to share is that my brother Colin has decided to come visit me in Kenya before I leave. I'm super excited. Our plan is for Colin to fly in a few weeks before I finish in July. Between now and then I will plan a safari for the two of us, which will include heading down to Tanzania to see the Great Migration. Afterwards we will fly back to the US together. Considering what it is required of him to visit (vacation time, immunizations, travel costs, etc.) I'm very thankful to Colin for his commitment. See you soon bro!