Give me SEACOM! Or at least my 3G modem. Nairobi Internet speeds are so 1999. I am currently in the Peace Corps HQ in Nairobi waiting for a dentist appointment to occur. Don’t worry, my teeth are fine, just trying to figure out a sensitivity on one of them. Better safe than sorry. I blame all the Coke and sukari (sugar) in my liquids diet. I know there’s minimal amount in my solids diet. Yes, I break my diet into liquids and solids. Doesn’t everybody? Man, non peace corps people are weird. Where does soup go?
Last week was week one of my grand central vacation (raesons why I loved the english language: i could hyphenate that previous sentence in so many ways and you would think I was in New York or something…). I spent the week working with two Costa Rican volunteers operating through a partnership between their organization, Strategic Funding and the World Computer Exchange (http://www.worldcomputerexchange.org), as well as one Kenyan volunteer operating through WCE, and five volunteers operating through the Kenya School of Professional Studies. I tried explaining to the school administrators who I work for,
“Well, this week I am with WCE, but normally I am at National Youth Service as US Peace Corps Volunteer…”
[insert blank stares and thoughts of ‘what’s this white guy saying?’]
“Im from America.”
Of course, the natural course of this conversation would then be handed over to Deilly, who would politely explain that I am from the United States of America, and that America is in fact a whole region, not just one country, and that in fact, she and Walter are also technically American. Some people got this; some people now think Costa Rica is the 51st state in the Union (take that Puerto Rico!), but I will only judge once I can safely assure myself that every American can himself name all the states of the Union. I won’t hold my breath. I’ve learned that people who base their worldlieness simply on their geographic capabilities are silly people indeed.
We spent the week running around the Tetu Constiuency in Central Province trying to prep seven of the schools to recieve internet connections in an attempt to bridge that pesky digital divide. Things I learned include:
1) It’s prononced ROO-ter in kenyan english, not ROW-ter (the word being router).
2) Kenyans do not respond well to “your mama,” jokes, but I’m getting them there polepole
3) Despite an overabundance of semi-intelligent individuals trying to lay hundreds of meters of network cable, the best way we could come up with to get through a concrete brick wall was by smacking it with a hammer and nail. Needless to say, I think Physics just felt bad for us and made the concrete crumble on its own. I hear he values effort (you didn’t think rockets reach escape velocity because they actually overpowered gravity did you?!).
4) Our group can’t tack cable for the life of us. Myself fully included.
5) Not all ceilings are rat and bat infested, just some.
6) Future constituencies should know that we fully accept gratitude in the form of a 50 pound bag of sugar cane.
Most importantly though was that I got to spend time with young Kenyans who share similar interests as myself. In recent months I have been immersing myself a bit more into the tech culture here and am meeting younger techies, but last week I got to spend a whole week with people, in person, not just chatting on mailing lists and swapping troubleshooting advice. It was fun.
And now, after a few nights in Nairobi (I lost my sunglasses… grr), and spending some time with the new volunteers, I am off to Yatta to help my friend David out at another NYS. As long as I don’t get lost in the matatus along Thika road before getting there.