Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Beginning Of The End

I know that this blog has recently shifted to an awfully tech-focused tone as of late, but it’s primary purpose has always been to help me convey my experiences serving as Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya. This experience is rapidly coming to an end however, and this past weekend was the beginning of that end.

Sure, teaching ended over a week ago, and school has closed. Sure, way back in September we had our official Close f Service (COS) conference to tie up administrative loose ends. Sure, since January I have been occasionally ticking off “last” experiences I would be having, including mango seasons, school holidays, etc. But today, I started saying goodbyes, when the next I might meet my friend is clouded in the obscurity called “life”.

The volunteers who are remaining in my training group (57% will officially close service within the allowed time frame to constitute a “full service”) got together at Diani Beach and rented out a great little place called Vindingo Cottages, basically taking it over and using the weekend to relax, unwind and reminisce about our two years of service here in Kenya. Of course, once we figured out our situation, we invited other volunteers to join from different training groups, because, well, all volunteers become part of your Peace Corps family very quickly.

I am so used to seeing volunteers in and out of Mombasa just by being around, that I was shocked this morning when a friend of mine came up and said, “Well, this is goodbye.” Sure, I think to myself, goodbye for now, but I’ll just see you around town.

No. I won’t.

December is a busy month: we have two training sites operating, needing constant volunteer participation; we have teachers on holiday and using it get out of site; we have others who are preparing for special holiday-season travels. Our routine is broken, including mine. I am around Mombasa for the next week, then off to Nairobi. Even I won’t be “just around”.

Next thing I knew, I was saying goodbye to everyone who was at the cottages. A few people will be in Nairobi with me as we prep to return to the States, but a vast majority will not. My fellow volunteers will continue on as varied paths leaving Peace Corps as we first walked down before our serving. Some will be staying in Kenya, having gotten jobs with organizations here, or looking to do so. Others will be traveling around East Africa, and even the world before continuing into the who-knows-what. Some, like me, are heading straight home, but again, to uncertain futures. Grad school? Work? Unemployment…?

Our time is up, and this weekend was the first time it hit me, with that first hug goodbye.

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Corona: Hata Siafu


Hata Siafu translates literally as, “Even safari ants,” from Kiswahili. Hata (even) is used quite frequently in Kiswahili and subsequently in Kenyan English and it seems many of Kenyan English’s idiosyncrasies are derived from literally translated Kiswahili. The intention of the phrase is to imply that safari ants like Corona as well myself. It’s perfectly logical, but a less used construct in American English.

One of the tricks I have learned in order to speak more colloquial Swahili is to listen to some of the English phraseology produced by Kenyans. Having lived in Australia, I have been able to use my Austral-English experience to differentiate between idiosyncrasies that are derived from British English and those which are not. When I hear something that is neither American or British English, I may ask for a translation into Swahili and then listen for that phrase in during Kiswahili conversations. It helps.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the ant movie and this little language lesson!

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